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Reviewer's Bookwatch

Volume 15, Number 7 July 2015 Home | RBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Andy's Bookshelf Bethany's Bookshelf
Buhle's Bookshelf Burroughs' Bookshelf Carson's Bookshelf
Chapman's Bookshelf Gail's Bookshelf Gary's Bookshelf
Gina's Bookshelf Gloria's Bookshelf Gorden's Bookshelf
Julie's Bookshelf Karyn's Bookshelf Kevin's Bookshelf
Logan's Bookshelf Lois' Bookshelf Margaret's Bookshelf
Mason's Bookshelf Mayra's Bookshelf Peggy's Bookshelf
Suzie's Bookshelf Teri's Bookshelf Theodore's Bookshelf

Reviewer's Choice

The Hidden White House
Robert Klara
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250000279, $26.99,

Joshua Chanin

A book that has been hailed and critically praised as one of the most factual books written about the famous White House in the District of Columbia, "The Hidden White House: Harry Truman and the Reconstruction of America's Most Famous Residence" describes the in-depth story and many accounts of the residents at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in the aftermath of the Second World War. After standing for over 140 years with little repairs, against the wear and tear from its many residents and the weathers, the White House was on the verge of collapse after the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration in 1946. The un-sturdy wooden beams could no longer hold the interior walls together, as the new administration and First Family of then-President Harry Truman began to realize that the house could no longer support its own heavy weight. After the frightening incident involving a swinging chandelier, held up by a few splinters of wood terrorized the lovely American Daughter's party in 1947, whilst the President was taking a bath upstairs, investigators finally declared the White House unsuitable to live in. The President soon moved across the street in much hurry, the treasures and decorations were relocated to storage in various places across the country, and the nation's most famous residence began to undertake a makeover that would take over four years to complete. Not only does this book go through the process of reconstructing the White House in detail, it also focuses on the relationships President Truman had with his family, the Congress, and the builders and designers of the new project.

The Hidden White House is a must-have book for all historians, and also for people out there who are interested in American history. You do not need to know much about the famous house's history to understand this book at first, because Klara goes into great detail about the history of the White House and Washington D.C. in the first chapter. In preceding chapters, he slowly begins to unravel the full history of the White House by detailing the reconstruction projects that happened all the way up to the main one in 1948. Klara probably intends to promote the history of America through this book as a means to explore the most famous house in the United States.

The sources that the author uses gives us a greater scope at what this major reconstruction event was like, through the personal eyes of the President, his family, the many servants the house employed, and through the diary entries of the architects, designers, and builders. As this was a turning point for the United States in history, the restoration of a grand new White House would ultimately provide hope and a beacon of powerful light for the nation that would soon become the world's greatest superpower; all of which is slowly unraveled in Robert Klara's masterpiece.

Marginus Morius
Stelios Chalkitis
Vanguard Press
c/o Pegasus Elliot MacKenzie Publishers Ltd
Sheraton House, Castle Park, Cambridge, England, CB3 0AX
9781843869931, $19.99, 430pp,

Cynthia Mathews

A contemporary odyssean adventure, Marginus Morius is a novel which I have read three times so far. Why might you think, has it had this impact on me? Well, it's actually because it is the type of book that, even though it is a work of fiction, it is infused with so much arcane knowledge that needs to be extracted by the reader like precious gems from within the bedrock of the storyline, a task which cannot be done in one reading, a fact which compelled me to write this review. The knowledge is revealed throughout an exciting journey beginning from a small Aegean island in contemporary Greece and then moving on to Athens the capital city, to India, to Mount Athos the monastic polity, to the Vatican City, and even into extraordinary states of existence. It touches on various current affairs issues, such as corruption in crisis-stricken Greece. It takes on metaphysical issues which fuel the main character's travels.

Odysseas is a hero reminiscent to Homer's and is as driven in pursing his goal which is to fulfill his spiritual, mental and emotional potential despite the obstacles he faces, political, moral and religious. It transcends boundaries of gender, theology, race, space and time. Lou is Odysseas' guide taking him through his transformation. She is the daughter of a shipping magnate. She has had a head start on her personal quest. Their master, Verochios a monk on Mount Athos, is a wise elder who recognized their capabilities and groomed them. There are so many other equally engaging characters as well. The author manages to captivate the reader and render her or him a witness of the main character's saga. Bible conspiracy theory could be considered a shared aspect that Marginus Morius has with Dan Brown's international best selling mystery detective novel The Da Vinci Code. However, Marginus Morius is a much more complex and multi-faceted work, which dares to tackle life's most troubling questions and what the beyond might entail.

The author Stelios Chalkitis, lives on the island of Kalymnos in the Dodecanese in south-eastern part of the Aegean Sea. He has extensively travelled in his own never-ending search for knowledge, so I gather that he has based much of the book on these trips. This is his debut novel. His second novel Lucirus is currently being translated. He is writing a third novel at the moment. He has also produced a philosophical work Ante Tractatum. He frequently gives lectures on philosophy, focusing on metaphysics, in Thessaloniki, in northern Greece.

Having been written in Greek originally, it was first published in 2012. It received accolades in Greece by academics and is a best seller. The Greek edition is actually being reprinted. It took me about two days to read its 430 pages. I was obviously enthralled and couldn't put it down, and not only because of the plot. I must also comment on the English translation which is surprisingly quite good. I strongly recommend this book to readers of all ages, but who have achieved a certain level of maturity and open-mindedness, as it has something to offer everyone, literally. There is also room for romance. The writer's style is rather baroque, it is imposing and plethoric. At the same time his prose borders on lyrical poetry.

"Who would dare to distill the lament of the tearing resin, or the giddiness of the blossoms that faint in the arms of the leaves? Who would stop to sense the aromatic rustling of the jasmine? Who would buy the perspiration of the dawn on the carpels of a shy cyclamen... the kiss of pollen that entices the bee, the salty panting of the seaweeds that are reunited with the open sea? Once man could perceive the messages of the earth, now he just watches TV..."

So, this is definitely a work with aesthetic value. I was quite moved by it, cried at various points, felt enlightened at others. It is a transformative book, so be ready for a mind-altering experience.

A Spacious Life: Memoir of a Meditator
Narissa Doumani
Port Campbell Press
c/o Dennis Jones & Associates
1/10 Melrich Road, Bayswater, Vic 3153, Australia
9780997358100, $19.99 PB, $7.99 Kindle, 280pp,

Kelly Bodoh

Always intrigued by the experiences of others along their respective spiritual paths, I anticipated that Narissa Doumani's A Spacious Life would inspire me to open my heart a bit wider or to deepen my practice in some meaningful way; however, within the first few pages, I found myself utterly astounded by what appeared to be the author's lack of humility and profound attachment to ego. My curiosity piqued by the way in which the tone of the memoir triggered my indignance and frustration, I continued reading in hopes that doing so would reveal something profound regarding my visceral response to the words that appeared before me. What I've concluded is that I might be something of a fool for putting myself in the uncomfortable position of providing an honest critique of an extremely egocentric account of one woman's ambition to attain liberation through enlightenment.

In spite of the blessings of an admittedly charmed life, growing up in a supportive and loving home amid ample resources and opportunity, Ms. Doumani felt an overwhelming and pervasive sense of discontentment throughout her childhood, adolescence and early adulthood, believing that she was never good enough and that her life lacked meaning. Recounting her early years, she emphasizes how challenging it was to not fit in with her peers at school while her teachers seemed unable to accommodate her specialness, behaving awkwardly upon learning of her IQ while refusing to allow her to merge with "flow" during in-class assignments. "Luckily, I had three mighty weapons in my arsenal to see me through that time," Ms. Doumani explains of her first three decades. "A simple heart that wanted to do right by others, a strong and intelligent mind always looking for deeper meaning, and my name." Indeed, Narissa is Thai for "lady who dispels evil."

Seeking distraction from the stress of her early adulthood, Ms. Doumani visited a bookstore one day in search of escape but found herself inexplicably drawn to a particular work of Buddhist literature. Upon settling in to read after experiencing a bit of avoidance, she noticed that a continual stream of mind-chatter had always kept her from residing within the present moment. From that time, she adopted a personal mindfulness practice and, not long after, was fortunate to discover her teacher, Luang Pu, within a forest cave in Thailand, upon whose guidance she continues to rely.

Especially within the beginning chapters, Ms. Doumani spends an extraordinary amount of time discussing, what appears rather pretentiously, her beauty, her IQ and her family's privilege as well as the depth of her compassion; and, on several occasions, she elaborates upon the way in which she is able to bring a smile to the faces of those who are fortunate enough to encounter her amid the workday as well as off-the-clock. Given that she notes, rather defensively, the potential of subjecting herself to the judgements of her readers and their opinions "trying to rattle" her, I can't help but to wonder if she is aware at some level of her rather heightened sense of self.

In addition, A Spacious Life tends toward the melodramatic as Ms. Doumani recounts her relationships with the Italian, the Businessman and the Fighter as well as a few anecdotes beyond those associated with her romantic entanglements. Most notably, her framing of a common gynecological procedure as coming face-to-face with death lost its poignance in light of the fact that abnormal paps fall well within the realm of so many women's experience and are generally faced with infinitely more grace and resilience. All the while, the challenges of schoolyard teasing and influenza are approached with a similar sense of tragedy.

Nonetheless, once Ms. Doumani begins to discuss the tenets of Buddhism and mindful approaches to daily living, things begin to look up as she does possess quite a good handle on the teachings -- while appearing suitably impressed by her knowledge, to boot. Her "striving" versus a humble aspiration for enlightenment reeks of either desperation and/or ambition and truly does not seem to be undertaken for the benefit of all beings; however, she can certainly speak the language.

If truth be told, I wish I hadn't picked up Ms. Doumani's memoir as there is enough human failing within the spiritual community without her contribution. That being said, I do appreciate an honest admission of one's stumbling and faltering along the path as this usually cultivates a sense of connection and universal understanding; yet, her lack of humility was so off-putting that I felt alienated instead. Her tendency toward overestimating her misfortune while others make peace with circumstances far more dire stripped a little of the tenderness from my perspective. However, if nothing else, A Spacious Life does serve as a reminder that all of us on the path are blinded by delusion to some degree, perhaps most notably those who view themselves as more evolved than the rest.

When Eagles Roar: The Amazing Journey of an African Wildlife Adventurer
James Alexander Currie with Bonnie J. Fladung
Illustrated by Margo Gabrielle Damian
Ukhozi Press
316 Glenn Road, West Palm Beach, FL 33405
9780990766001, $15.95, 312 pages,

Lois C. Henderson, Reviewer

Selected as "one of the best nature books of 2014" by The Guardian's science blogger, When Eagles Roar: The Amazing Journey of an African Wildlife Adventurer is a memoir of James Currie's experiences as a game ranger and birder in Africa, in which he tells of many a narrow escape from the jaws of death, whether they be those a puff adder that literally catches him with his pants down, or those of a lioness charging him while out birding.

Each chapter in When Eagles Roar is prefaced by a few lines of poetry from the renowned Zulu poet, Mazisi Kunene, whose literary goal was the retelling of African history in a way that he believed would make it relevant and authentic to the non-African. In such a way does Currie, with the assistance of Bonnie Fladung, share the wonders of life in the bush (including a great deal more than just the Big Five) with those of us who have only limited awareness of what such a life entails.

Currie prides himself on his ability to tell stories well, which he certainly does. His acute awareness of both the dangers and the lyricism of the African bush comes alive in these pages, which are illustrated with many an artful line drawing by Margo Damian. The threats to which those living in Africa are subject not only come from the never-ending cycle of predator and prey, of which humans form an inevitable, and largely dominant, part, but also from the onslaught of one of the most deadly of modern-day scourges, AIDS. Currie's solid bond with his trackers, who come from the local African communities, is made heartbreakingly real in his telling of how they and their families are affected by this dread disease. His ability to make close connections with them can, to a large extent, be attributed to his knowledge of their native isiZulu language. Although Currie does not dwell on politics, one is made aware of his opposition to the apartheid regime of yesteryear, which has left so much poverty in its wake, to which the country as a whole is still subject, in the form of its depredatory legacy.

This book is likely to have widespread appeal to both old and young, and should especially be made available to youngsters who are intent on choosing a worthwhile career path for themselves. However, those who are prurient of mind should be aware that they might find some of the wording in When Eagles Roar offensive, as this is a tale that does not pander to the euphemistically inclined, but which is rather one of nitty-gritty existence in the bush, despite much of it revolving around the trials and tribulations of a game ranger living on the five-star Phinda Game Reserve in the more rural areas of northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

In short, this memoir roars with the pulsating life of Africa, which, although under threat, nevertheless has a magic all of its own. The humanitarian nature of this work gives it a power that transcends the individual magnetism of the author, with it having a transcontinental appeal that should prove a true draw card worldwide not only among conservationists, but also among all those who are intrigued by other life forms that hopefully will continue to share our planet for eons yet to come.

Rarity From the Hollow
Robert Eggleton
Doghorn Publishing
9781907133060, $20.84 PB, $5.95 Kindle, 284pp,

Bryan Zepp Jamieson

Lacy Dawn is a little girl who lives in a magical forest where all the trees love her and she has a space alien friend who adores her and wants to make her queen of the universe. What's more, all the boys admire her for her beauty and brains. Mommy is very beautiful and Daddy is very smart, and Daddy's boss loves them all.


Lacy Dawn, the eleven year old protagonist, perches precariously between the psychosis of childhood and the multiple neuroses of adolescence, buffeted by powerful gusts of budding sexuality and infused with a yearning to escape the grim and brutal life of a rural Appalachian existence. In this world, Daddy is a drunk with severe PTSD, and Mommy is an insecure wraith. The boss is a dodgy lecher, not above leering at the flat chest of an eleven-year-old girl.

Yes, all in one book.

Rarity From The Hollow is written in a simple declarative style that's well- suited to the imaginary diary of a desperate but intelligent eleven-year-old - the story bumping joyfully between the extraordinary and the banal.

The central planet of the universe is a vast shopping mall, and Lacy Dawn must save her world from a menace that arrives in the form of a cockroach infestation. Look again and the space alien has made Daddy smart and happy - or at least an eleven year old girl's notion of what a smart and happy man should be. He has also made Mommy beautiful, giving her false teeth and getting the food stamp lady off her back.

About the only thing in the book that is believable is the nature of the narrative voice, and it is utterly compelling. You find yourself convinced that "Hollow" was written as a diary-based autobiography by a young girl and the banal stems from the limits of her environment, the extraordinary from her megalomania. And that's what gives Rarity From The Hollow a chilling, engaging verisimilitude that deftly feeds on both the utter absurdity of the characters' motivations and on the progression of the plot.

Indeed, there are moments of utter darkness: In one sequence, Lacy Dawn remarks matter-of-factly that a classmate was whipped to death, and notes that the assailant, the girl's father, had to change his underpants afterward because they were soiled with semen. Odd, and often chilling notes, abound.

As I was reading it, I remembered when I first read Vonnegut's "Cat's Cradle" at the age of 14. A veteran of Swift, Heller, and Frederick Brown, I understood absurdist humour in satire, but Vonnegut took that understanding and turned it on its ear.

In the spirit of Vonnegut, Eggleton (a psychotherapist focused on the adolescent patient) takes the genre and gives it another quarter turn. A lot of people hated Vonnegut, saying he didn't know the rules of good writing. But that wasn't true. Vonnegut knew the rules quite well, he just chose to ignore them, and that is what is happening in Eggleton's novel, as well.

Not everyone will like Rarity From The Hollow. Nonetheless, it should not be ignored.

Also available from:

Savage Mountain
John Smelcer
Leapfrog Press
P.O. Box 505, Fredonia, NY 14063
9781935248651, $12.00, TPB,

Steve Barfield

Some men know that they are always competing with one another no matter the circumstance. Sometimes it happens between father and sons. Seeking admiration from a distant father, two young teenage brothers go into the perilous wilderness throwing themselves upon a brutal and even impossible mountain. Risk is in everything and the tension propels the reader through this heart stopping tale. As amateur climbers with home-made equipment, these boys assault one of America's highest peaks. The journey has them twice traversing the glacier at the foot of this mountain. This in and of itself is a story of survival and almost as dangerous as the mountain. Every decision is a life and death choice as the boys test the very edges of endurance. The rigors of the climb take them up through the snowline with each step more dangerous than the last. These boys are so far from any possible rescue and entering an environment where only the best prepared will survive. The brothers even steal food from a bear. Weather is always a serious consideration. Too warm and there is the danger of avalanches. The cold has its own emphatic perils. To survive this environment and climb the boys must work as a team.

Smelcer explains: "Mountaineers entrust their lives to partners and teammates a hundred times a day. Some of the strongest and most enduring friendships are forged from havingshared the perils of mountain climbing. Some of the greatest regrets are friends
left on the mountain."

Two phenomenal sons from a dysfunctional family accomplish an impossible feat. They find from within themselves the strength to work together and eventually rediscover their lost brotherhood. The sons did all of this so that father might be proud. In the end, they found something on that mountain to offer pride for themselves. Reflected in action and dialogue these characters ring true. They are drawn from a deep understanding of people and their needs. The author does this with his own authentic-technical expertise. You will feel the chill of an artic wind blowing through his story.

Upon reading Savage Mountain you will see why so many writers like this author. John Smelcer is a writer's writer. His refined and economical style offers an easy and exciting read. For a prologue, the author compresses eons of mountain evolution into a concise short definition:

For almost a million years the mountain has been thrusting itself skyward in violent upheavals, buckling and folding the crust from the collision and one plate riding over and consuming the other, upending the very earth itself...So Insurmountable, the unconquerable mountain destroys anything that dares to rise up against it....Some fathers are like a mountain.

The well celebrated and much honored author creates a true experience of two brothers surviving their fractured family and an unforgiving environment. Smelcer crafts a breathtaking Alaskan adventure story of struggle and determined will as the boys run out of everything except pure grit.

The Empowered Empath: Quick & Easy: Owning, Embracing and Managing Your Special Gifts
Rose Rosetree
Women's Intuition Worldwide, LLC
116 Hillsdale Drive, Sterling, VA 20164-1201
9781935214373, $12.95, 176pp,

Jessica Gates

According to Rose Rosetree, "An empath is someone with at least one significant gift for directly experiencing what it is like to be another person."

The Empowered Empath -- Quick and Easy teaches techniques for effortless management of empath gifts in a way that is easy to understand.

"Part One: Owning Your Empath Gifts" explains what it means to be an empath.

"Part Two: Embracing Your Empath Gifts" describes 15 different empath gifts.

"Part Three: How Your Embraceable Gifts Really Work" answers questions about experiences with "unskilled empath merges," where an empath's innate gifts work but in a random manner that results in problems.

"Part Four: Manage Your Magnificent Empath Gifts" teaches simple but powerful techniques for developing a stronger sense of self and turning empath gifts OFF.

With quizzes and answers, techniques, and examples of students who have gained skills as an empath, this book is a fun read. Yet it presents a straightforward and powerful system for Empath Empowerment(R).

Any empath who is done with suffering and coping will benefit from becoming a skilled empath with the system presented in this how-to book.

Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Empowered Empath -- Quick & Easy: Owning, Embracing, and Managing Your Special Gifts" is an informed and informative instruction guide and manual that is very highly recommended reading.

It should be noted that "The Empowered Empath -- Quick & Easy" is also available in a Kindle edition ($5.99).

The Malpractice Epidemic: A Layman's Guide to Medical Malpractice
Bernard Leo Remakus, M.D.
221 East Publishing
PO Box 367, Hallstead, Pa. 18822
Paperback and Kindle e-book sold on website,
Paperback - ISBN-13 9781499140248; Price $9.99; 131 Pages
Kindle e-b00k - ASIN - B00959HQKY; Price $2.99; File Size 404 KB

Elizabeth Franklin, Reviewer
Portland Book Review

Many of us, whether as patients or as caregivers, have seen errors and problems occur within the medical profession. Some people are quick to label these experiences as malpractice. Dr. Bernard Leo Remakus, author of The Malpractice Epidemic: A Layman's Guide to Medical Malpractice would like to help set the record straight.

In his book, first published in 1990, Remakus attempts to define the term by cleverly using hypothetical cases to demonstrate what is and what is not malpractice. He analyses the role of the judicial system, legal profession and insurance industry in claims and offers suggestions as to what readers can do to end this "epidemic." His continued use of "epidemic" is very purposeful. His goal is to get readers to see malpractice as a sickness in America.

The book is very much for the layman. Remakus points out that the medical and legal communities use specialized vocabularies to discuss malpractice. This jargon confuses and excludes the average American from the conversation. So Remakus breaks down concepts and uses terms readers can understand. Since Dr. Remakus has been through years of education, training and spent years working with patients and families, he has seen what the malpractice "epidemic" can do to communities, the medical profession and individual doctors who are engulfed in malpractice claims/suits.

At this point, readers should know that Dr. Remakus is very clear about concepts, terms and the purpose of his book (which appears to be to clarify what is and what is not malpractice). But towards the end of his work, he introduces his "cure" to the "epidemic" which could be an entire book in itself. Dr. Remakus asks readers to consider National Health Insurance. Under such a program, physicians would be employed by the federal government. Judicial, legal and insurance groups would have limited involvement in malpractice claims.

"By adopting such a program, the United States would be setting the greatest standard in health care delivery ever known to mankind. At the same time, it would be putting an end to the most disgraceful mockery of justice this country has ever experienced."

Overall, Remakus does a great job of breaking down malpractice for the layman. He challenges readers to consider the strain today's health care system puts on our society and definitely puts ideas on the table that are appropriate to be thinking about, especially during this critical time when Americans begin to feel the impact of the Affordable Care Act.

Medicine Between The Lines
Bernard Leo Remakus, M.D.
221 East Publishing
PO Box 367, Hallstead, Pa. 18822
Paperback and Kindle e-book sold on website,
Paperback ISBN-13 9781499191783; Price $9.99; 206 Pages
Kindle e-book ASIN B00929AMLW; Price $2.99; File Size 418 KB

Kathryn Franklin, Reviewer
Portland Book Review

Dr. Bernard Remakus has practiced medicine, written scientific articles, conducted clinical drug research, coached high school baseball and raised a family. He also served as a featured columnist for International Medicine World Report for over 10 years. Medicine Between the Lines is a collection of essays that Remakus wrote during that busy decade. This retrospective covers topics surrounding our health care system, special interest groups, malpractice, government spending cuts and HMOs. All of the essays were important at the time they were originally written and they remain just as relevant today.

Readers will enjoy Remakus' clear and comedic writing style. While he makes his arguments, he throws in little jokes and anecdotes that will bring forth chuckles. Not all of the essays are lighthearted. The piece titled "Shocks and Aftershocks" challenges readers to think about privacy, specifically within the world of drug companies. In another essay, Remakus argues against limiting the United States' use of foreign medical graduates. He shares personal experiences with drunk driving and discusses preventative measures created to keep drunk drivers off the road. The great thing about this eBook is that the essays can be read in any order. At just over 200 pages, readers can get what they want out of this book, when they want it.

Medicine From the Heart
Bernard Leo Remakus, M.D.
221 East Publishing
PO Box 367, Hallstead, Pa. 18822
Paperback and Kindle e-book sold on website,
Paperback ISBN-13 9781499178036; Price $9.99; 202 Pages
Kindle e-book ASIN B008458LNG; Price $2.99; File Size 407 KB

Kathryn Franklin, Reviewer
Portland Book Review

Bernard Leo Remakus has practiced internal medicine for over 30 years. He has also lectured, coached baseball, raised a family, authored novels, a screenplay and works of non-fiction. He has written countless scientific and medical articles that have been read by physicians, med students and the public. Medicine From the Heart is an eBook that brings together many of Dr. Remakus' articles, some written over 20 years ago. The result is a collection of stories, personal anecdotes and reflections on the state of America's health care system.

His essays cover issues including smoking, home health care, faith, psychiatry, malpractice, pro bono work, managed care, the Hippocratic Oath, research and funding, reform and a day in the life of a rural doctor.

Don't worry. It doesn't feel like you are reading a scientific journal. Dr. Remakus personalizes each "chapter" so that he tells the story of a person, event or important point. He shares his frustration with insurance companies, hospital billing departments, Workmen's Compensation, HMOs and Medicare.

Readers who are pro-choice and advocates of end of life choices should know that Dr. Remakus' personal interpretation of the Hippocratic Oath doesn't allow him to offer these services to his patients.

Even though some pieces are over 20 years old, a majority of the issues are still relevant today. The fact that many problems haven't been solved certainly says something about the state of our medical system. But it is reassuring to know that there are caring practitioners like Dr. Remakus who put patients first.

Andy's Bookshelf

The Eight-Bit Bard
Aaron Rath
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781514320778 $12.49 pbk / $5.00 Kindle

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in a computer role-playing world, where the streets are divided into 10' x10' squares, and a pack of slavering monsters lurks inside every other house? The Eight-Bit Bard is a fantasy saga written especially for anyone who has ever loved a classic computer role-playing game. Though inspired by popular 80's RPGs such as the "Wizardry" and "Bard's Tale" series, The Eight-Bit Bard is not a licensed novel; it is a completely original story told from the perspective of a playable character, mysteriously transported to the realm of a (fictional) computer game called "Ballad of the Bard". Aric Endrew loves good songs, good drink, and adventures with his comrades-in-arms. He is one of the Phoenix Dragons, a stalwart group led by a paladin beholden to a mysterious, godlike force known only as the Player. But when a boss battle gone horribly wrong drains Aric of his hard-earned experience levels, the Phoenix Dragons eject him from their ranks. Discarded and despondent, Aric has literally nothing to live for, until a ragtag, suboptimally balanced band of neophyte adventurers in need of a leader rescues him from the brink of death. Can Aric apply what little skill and talent he has left to forge them into a fighting team? The story never takes itself too seriously; there are plenty of pun-laden names, gaming in-jokes, and tongue-in-cheek fantasy parodies, such as monsters called Feature Creeps, which endlessly summon one another while yelling "just one more!" Yet beneath the mirth lies a character-driven saga about fire-forged friendship, pushing one's limits, and the importance of stopping to question the very things one has taken for granted during the whole of one's existence. Although video game fans will especially enjoy The Eight-Bit Bard, connoisseurs of high, low, and middle fantasy will also be enraptured to the very end of the grand quest - and beyond! Highly recommended.

The Battle for Darracia
Michael Phillip Cash
Red Feather Publishing
9781511831543 $19.99 pbk / $4.99 Kindle

The Battle for Darracia is a fantastic saga about a once peaceful world threatened by schism and possibly even war by an increasing gulf between social groups. Nineteen-year-old Prince V'sair struggles to harness the power of the mysterious Fireblade, seek the guidance of the Elements, and develop a warrior's heart to stand a chance against his ruthless, conquest-driven uncle. Formerly published as three books, "Schism", "Collision", and "Risen", The Battle for Darracia contains the entire epic trilogy in one volume. An action-packed saga of brave heroes, tyrannical villains, and the terrible costs of war driven by social inequality, The Battle for Darracia is highly recommended.

Sailor Man
Del Staecker
Hellgate Press
c/o Litrides Assoc. (publicity)
9781555718169 $14.95 pbk.

Also available as an ebook (9781555718176), Sailor Man: The Troubled Life and Times of J.P. Nunnally, USN is the true-life story of a teenager who lied about his age to enlist in the Navy, and served in the Pacific Theater of World War II. The horrors he experienced scarred him deeply; he tried to settle down afterward, but alcohol addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder wrecked him from the inside out, and he was unable to remain with his wife, raise his son, or live a normal life. Drawing upon historical records and letters that J.P. wrote, Sailor Man is a vivid portrayal of life in the wartime navy, and the heartbreaking toll of war. Highly recommended.

The Age of the Battleship 1890-1922
Brayton Harris
Privately Published
9780986230936 $14.95

Originally published in 1965 as part of a six-volume history of the U.S. Navy, The Age of the Battleship 1890-1922 has been updated and re-issued by the author. Extensively researched yet accessible to readers of all backgrounds, The Age of the Battleship tells of the long, slow, and painful rebuilding of the U.S. Navy in the decades after the Civil War. In spite of corruption, indifference, factional disputes and political incompetence, the United States Navy gradually improved in efficiency and effectiveness. It was involved in bringing the modern developments of submarines and airplanes to naval warfare. The racially integrated U.S. Navy would become segregated, then integrated again. Of particular note during the time period was the U.S. Navy's success in two wars - one against Spain in 1898, and then as part of the Allied war effort against Germany in 1918. A handful of historic, black-and-white illustrations and an index round out this thought-provoking and seminal nautical history, especially recommended for public and college library collections.

Andy Jordan

Bethany's Bookshelf

The Reality of God
Steven R. Hemler
Saint Benedict Press
PO Box 410487, Charlotte, NC 28241
9781618902184, $22.95, 192pp,

Synopsis: "The Reality of God: The Layman's Guide to Scientific Evidence for the Creator" addresses such all-important questions as to whether or not God exists, the quandary of evolution vs. creationism, and other issues by providing an introductory overview of key scientific evidence, philosophical reasons, and insights drawn from human nature demonstrating God's existence. In simple, accessible language (and well-supported by scientific experts) Steven Hemler (President of the Catholic Apologetics Institute of North America) guides the reader through compelling evidence for the existence of God. Hemler shows how natural sciences such as biology, chemistry and physics (far from disproving religious belief) suggest and reveal the existence of a Creator at every turn. "The Reality of God" provides: An opportunity to address doubts about God's existence and strengthen faith; Persuasive reasons for belief valuable for sharing with questioning family and friends; Arguments showing the compatibility of faith and reason/science; Reasonable answers to the evolution vs. creation debate. "The Reality of God" puts forth in layman's terms how science and the natural world point to God's existence.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Reality of God: The Layman's Guide to Scientific Evidence for the Creator" is ideal for the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the subject of God's existence. Very highly recommended for community, seminary, and academic library Christian Studies collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Reality of God" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.98).

Family and Life: Pastoral Reflections
Pope Francis
Paulist Press
997 MacArthur Boulevard, Mahwah, NJ 07430
9780809149469, $14.95, 208pp,

Synopsis: "Family and Life: Pastoral Reflections" is an anthology of thirteen documents dealing with the subjects of matrimony, family, and life that Pope Francis (when he was Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio) had created as 'teaching documents' when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires. Pope Francis' work is now gathered and translated into English for the benefit of an American readership.

Critique: With the very highest of recommendations, "Family and Life: Pastoral Reflections" by Pope Francis should be considered a 'must read' by all Roman Catholics and has a great deal to recommend it to non-Catholics with an interest in what Pope Francis has to say on the subject of marriage and family and living our daily lives.

White Sails
Ann Yu Huang
Cherry Grove Collections
c/o Word Tech Communications
PO Box 541106, Cincinnati, OH 45254-1106
9781625491329, $18.00, 80pp,

Synopsis: "White Sails" is an anthology of Ann Yu Huang is a lyrical exploration of the surreality of one's life in response to one's dreams by a poet of impressive word skill based imagery. 'The Promise': Neither of us could speak, as if / we were running on the treadmill, / void in our art making, meditating / during our regimen, following through / the daydream, which has / taken place in everything / ever considered: / the sweet of our pores, / the sweat of our chapped lips.

Critique: An inherently fascinating body of work, "White Sails" is strongly recommended for personal, community, and academic library Contemporary American Poetry collections.

Secrets from Sesame Street's Pioneers
Lucille Burbank, Inc.
5726 Cortez Rd W, #349, Bradenton, FL 34210
9781626464025, $14.95, 192pp,

Synopsis: In the history of television broadcasting, there has never been another children's television series that has been able lasted 40 years -- and is still going! But the Children's Television Workshop series Sesame Street is on its 45th year! "Secrets from Sesame Street's Pioneers: How They Produced a Successful Television Series" is the story of Joan Cooney, who created Sesame Street, and Caroll Spinney, a.k.a., Big Bird, Henson's Muppets, the game, "One of These Things is Not Like the Others," and Jeff Moss' "Rubber Duckie", and so much else!

Critique: Exceptionally well researched, deftly written, informed and informative, "Secrets from Sesame Street's Pioneers: How They Produced a Successful Television Series" is a 'must' for all grown-up fans of arguably the most successful children's program ever created. Very highly recommended for community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Secrets from Sesame Street's Pioneers: How They Produced a Successful Television Series" is also available in a Kindle edition ($4.99).

Jonah, Tobit, Judith
Irene Nowell
The Liturgical Press
St. John's Abbey, PO Box 7500, Collegeville, MN 56321-7500
9780814628591, $12.95, 104pp,

Synopsis: "Jonah, Tobit, Judith" are three Old Testament books offering gripping stories of how God shows his mercy and accomplishes his will through human actions. Jonah is a reluctant prophet who must be swallowed by a whale before he delivers his message to Israel's ancient enemies at Nineveh that they must repent or face doom. Tobit tells of the trials and tribulations of a family, and the power of prayer as God sends an angel to guide Tobit's son Tobiah on a journey of resolution. In the book of Judith, a simple and courageous widow, rather than an army, saves her people from destruction by a powerful enemy.

Critique: Irene Nowell, OSB, of the Benedictine community of Mount Saint Scholastica in Atchison, Kansas, teaches Scripture courses at Saint John's School of Theology Seminary, Collegeville, Minnesota. She is a past president of the Catholic Biblical Association, and the author of many books including Women in the Old Testament, and Numbers in the New Collegeville Bible Commentary, as well as Old Testament editor of the Little Rock Catholic Study Bible, all published by Liturgical Press. In "Jonah, Tobit, Judith" she provides a richly informative commentary explores the significant themes of each book, showing that God is intimately involved with the destiny of humankind. Volume 14 in the outstanding Liturgical Press 'New Collegeville Bible Commentary' series, "Jonah, Tobit, Judith" is especially appropriate for the non-specialist general reader with an interest in Old Testament literature in general, and the books of Jonah, Tobit, and Judith in particular.

The Living Goddess
Isabella Tree
Eland & Sickle Moon Books
c/o Dufour Editions, Inc.
PO Box 7, Chester Springs, PA 19425-0007
9781780600468, $31.00, 384pp,

Synopsis: In a small medieval palace on Kathmandu's Durbar Square lives Nepal's famous Living Goddess -- a child as young as three who is chosen from a caste of Buddhist goldsmiths to watch over the country and protect its people. To Nepalis she is the embodiment of Devi (the universal goddess), and for centuries, their Hindu kings have sought her blessing to legitimize their rule. Weaving together myth, religious belief, modern history, and court gossip, "The Living Goddess: A Journey Into the Heart of Kathmandu" by Isabella Tree takes us on a compelling and fascinating journey to the esoteric, hidden heart of Nepal. Through her unprecedented access to the many layers of Nepalese society, the author is able to put the country's troubled modern history in the context of the complex spiritual beliefs and practices that inform the role of the little girl at its center. "The Living Goddess" is a compassionate and illuminating enquiry into this reclusive Himalayan country, deeply felt, emotionally engaged, and written after twelve years of travel and research.

Criteria: Of special note is the inclusion of a timeline that begins with the formation of the Kathmandu Valley in 100,000 BCE and concludes with the abolition of the Nepalize monarchy in 2008 CE. An inherently fascinating and informative read from beginning to end, "The Living Goddess: A Journey Into the Heart of Kathmandu" is a unique and enthusiastically recommended addition to community and academic library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Living Goddess: A Journey Into the Heart of Kathmandu" is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.49).

Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading
Kylene Beers & Robert E. Probst
PO Box 6926, Portsmouth, NH 03802-6926
9780325046938, $35.00, 288pp,

Synopsis: In "Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading" Kylene Beers and Bob Probst introduce readers to significant moments in a work of literature and encourage students to read closely them closely. Learning first to spot these signposts and then to question them, enables readers to explore the text, any text, finding evidence to support their interpretations. In short, these close reading strategies will help your students to notice and note. "Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading" examines the new emphasis on text-dependent questions, rigor, text complexity, and what it means to be literate in the 21st century; identifies 6 signposts that help readers understand and respond to character development, conflict, point of view, and theme; provides 6 text-dependent anchor questions that help readers take note and read more closely; offers 6 Notice and Note model lessons, including text selections and teaching tools, that help you introduce each signpost to your students. With the guidance of "Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading" classroom teachers in grades 4 through 10 will help create attentive readers who look closely at a text, interpret it responsibly, and reflect on what it means in their lives. It should help them become the responsive, rigorous, independent readers we not only want students to be but know our democracy demands. A new Notice and Note Literature Log offers students practice finding the signposts-with over-the-shoulder coaching from Kylene and Bob.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading" is enhanced with the inclusion of ten appendices and a twenty-one page Index. Specifically designed for creating classroom instruction approaches for teaching children 9 to 15 years old, "Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading" is very highly recommended for Teacher Education curriculums, as well as academic library reference collections and supplemental studies lists.

Tantra for the West
Mark Allen
New World Library
14 Pamaron Way, Novato, CA 94949
9781608683420, $14.95, 296pp,

Synopsis: What does tantra have to do with your relationships, work, money, creativity, sex, food and drink, being alone, meditation and yoga, aging and healing, politics, freedom, and enlightenment? Everything! Tantra is usually thought of as sex with some kind of mysticism thrown in. Marc Allen goes back to the original meaning of tantra and shows how it can be applied to every moment of your life, excluding nothing. Within your way of life, within your everyday thoughts and feelings, are the keys to love, freedom, and fulfillment. As soon as you can see this, you'll find yourself on a direct path to realizing the life of your dreams. "Tantra for the West: A Direct Path to Living the Life of Your Dreams" has inspired readers all over the world for over thirty years, and is now completely revised, with new material added. It gives you simple keys and practical tools that can be wildly, creatively adapted to your individual needs. If you spend even a brief amount of time with "Tantra for the West", you will discover for yourself the transformative power of tantra.

Critique: Exceptionally well written so as to be completely accessible to the non-specialist general reader, Mark Allen's "Tantra for the West: A Direct Path to Living the Life of Your Dreams" is certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community and academic library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Tantra for the West" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

In Firefly Valley
Amanda Cabot
c/o Baker Publishing Group
PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287
9780800734350, $14.99, 368pp,

Synopsis: Marisa St. George is devastated when she is a victim of downsizing and has no choice but to return to the small Texas town where she grew up. Though it's a giant step backward, she accepts a position as business manager at the struggling Rainbow's End resort. The only silver lining is Blake Kendall, a new guest who is making her believe in love at first sight. But will her dreams of happily-ever-after be turned upside down when she discovers who he really is?

Critique: Once again Amanda Cabot demonstrates her truly impressive storytelling skills with "In Firefly Valley", a warm and witty story of mistaken identity and second chances. Thoroughly entertaining from beginning to end, "In Firefly Valley" is very highly recommended for community library Romance Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that 'In Firefly Valley" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

The Wheel of Healing with Ayurveda
Michelle S. Fondin
New World Library
14 Pamaron Way, Novato, CA 94949
9781608683529, $15.95, 288pp,

Synopsis: Ever wondered why you're feeling out of balance, stressed-out, sick, and exhausted but still can't sleep? Western medicine often ignores the underlying issues that can lead to fatigue, illness, and disease, but there is a way to revitalize your body and mind without drugs or dangerous side effects. Ayurveda, the "science of life," is a complete wellness system that includes all that we associate with medical care including the prevention of disease, observation, diagnosis, and treatment, as well as self-care practices that are generally absent from Western medicine. This truly holistic approach considers not just diet, exercise, and genetics but also relationships, life purpose, finances, environment, and past experiences. In this thorough and practical book, Michelle Fondin guides you gently through self-assessment questions designed to zero in on your needs and the best practices for addressing them, such as eating plans, addiction treatment, detoxification, and techniques for improving relationships. She outlines steps you can take, with minimal cost, to heal common ailments such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, excess weight, anxiety, and depression. These time-tested methods for body, mind, and spirit wellness offer benefits to anyone at any age.

Critique: "The Wheel of Healing with Ayurveda: An Easy Guide to a Healthy Lifestyle" is extraordinarily well written, informed and informative. Thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "The Wheel of Healing with Ayurveda" is especially recommended to the attention of the non-specialist general reader with an interest in alternative medicine in general, and an Ayruveda approach to health issues in particular. It should be noted that "The Wheel of Healing with Ayurveda" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

A - Z Of Heirloom Sewing
Country Bumpkin, compiler
Search Press USA
1338 Ross Street, Petaluma, CA 94954-1117
9781782211716, $19.95, 144pp,

Synopsis: Now even the most novice of needlecrafters can discover the delights of Heirloom Sewing with "A - Z Of Heirloom Sewing", an impressive collection of fine needlework techniques that imitate fine French hand sewing. The use of delicate fabrics trimmed with lace, entredeux, ribbon and tucks are common characteristics of this beautiful technique. Perfect for adding that extra special touch to christening gowns, children's clothes, wedding dresses and delicate garments, "A - Z Of Heirloom Sewing" has methods for every skill level. Filled with detailed instructions and useful hints, "A - Z Of Heirloom Sewing" offers over 700 clear step-by-step photographs to help you achieve the perfect finish. Topics include material and equipment; garment care and storage; working with lace and entredeux; handworked edges and finishes; and construction techniques particularly suited to fine fabrics.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, profusely illustrated, and thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "A - Z Of Heirloom Sewing" is enthusiastically recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library instructional needlecraft reference collections. It should be noted that "A - Z Of Heirloom Sewing" is also available in a Kindle edition ($19.95).

An Activity-Based Approach to Early Intervention
JoAnn Johnson, Naomi L. Rahn, Diane Bricker
Brookes Publishing Company
PO Box 10624, Baltimore, MD 21285-0624
9781598578010, $49.95, 368pp,

Synopsis: With the newly revised and significantly expanded fourth edition of the professional guide and course textbook "An Activity-Based Approach to Early Intervention" this classic textbook and professional guide, early childhood teachers and caregivers will earn the nuts and bolts of activity-based intervention (ABI), the trusted, child-directed approach for young children birth to 5. "An Activity-Based Approach to Early Intervention" demonstrates how to embed learning opportunities in everyday activities to help children acquire and generalize functional skills and reach their developmental goals. "An Activity-Based Approach to Early Intervention" provides a comprehensive introduction to the benefits, challenges, and foundations of ABI, as well as in-depth guidance on how to apply this popular approach with children in center- and home-based programs. Case stories, examples, and sample forms throughout clarify important points and procedures. "An Activity-Based Approach to Early Intervention" covers: Implement ABI in multiple settings with diverse groups of young children, including kids with disabilities and those at risk; Create multiple and varied learning opportunities within young children's natural routines and interactions; Seamlessly link screening, assessment, goal development, intervention, and evaluation; Develop individualized IFSP and IEP goals; Observe children before and after intervention to determine next steps; Understand and address the challenges of establishing evidence-based practices; Work as a team with other professionals and families. This newly expanded four edition offers: New chapters on conducting high-quality child observations, applying ABI in centers and in homes, and using ABI with children who have significant disabilities; Expanded information on key topics, including training paraprofessionals on ABI and keeping families involved; Updated course companion website with PowerPoint slides, study questions, and application activities will be available in early July.

Critique: Expertly written, organized and presented, "An Activity-Based Approach to Early Intervention" is strongly recommended as a classroom text for teacher training programs, is thoroughly 'user friendly' in content and commentary so as to make it fully understandable and accessible for concerned parents; and would prove to be a valued, core addition to academic library Education instructional reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Susan Bethany

Buhle's Bookshelf

Real Estate Development: Principles and Process
Mike Miles, Laurence M. Netherton, Adriennne Schmitz
Urban Land Institute
1025 Thomas Jefferson Street, NW, Suite 600 West
Washington, DC 20007-5201
9780874203431, $124.00, 400pp,

Synopsis: Now in a newly updated and expanded fifth edition, Real Estate Development: Principles and Process" is written primarily for an academic audience seeking a complete look at the complex and interdisciplinary decision-making environment of real estate development. While serving as a definitive resource in the classroom, "Real Estate Development: Principles and Process" is also intended to be useful to experienced professionals with an interest in real estate, including developers, city planners, legislators, regulators, corporate real estate officers, land planners, lawyers specializing in real estate law, leasing agents, among many other real estate professions. "Real Estate Development: Principles and Process" is based on an eight-stage model, explaining the nuts and bolts of real estate development, including ideas, feasibility, finance, contracts, and construction through marketing and asset management. The new and more concise edition retains the framework of the first edition, but has been updated to reflect the changing global economy, emerging industry trends, and how real estate practice has evolved. Additional highlights of this new fifth edition include: A new comprehensive finance chapter covering where the money originates, how to conduct financial calculations relevant to development, and interpret results.; Updated profiles of developers and other professionals in real estate development.; Two new case studies covering the Shortbread Lofts student housing development in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and the Irvine Tech Center in Irvine, California.

Critique: Exceptionally comprehensive, extraordinarily well written, deftly organized and presented, "Real Estate Development: Principles and Process" is a core addition for professional and academic library Real Estate Development reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

The Saga of the Pony Express
Joseph J. Di Certo
Mountain Press Publishing Company
PO Box 2399, Missoula, MT 59806
9780878424528, $17.00, 245pp,

Synopsis: America in the mid-1800s was a land of burgeoning cities, westward expansion, economic optimism, and political turmoil. Threatened by civil war and Indian uprisings, the government needed better communication with its far-flung citizens in the West. Three visionaries dreamt up a seemingly impossible solution: the Pony Express. An elite cadre of young riders would carry the U.S. mail across 2,000 miles of inhospitable wilderness in 10 days. For a brief yet crucial time, the system worked, until scandal (and the arrival of the telegraph) ended it. Against a backdrop of colorful characters chasing great dreams and greater adventure, "The Saga of the Pony Express" brings the legendary mail service to life. Separating truth from myth, it covers the route, the horses, the hard-driving supervisors, and the talented young riders such as Wild Bill Hickok and Buffalo Bill Cody, who shrugged off pain and sneered at danger.

Criteria: Enhanced with the inclusion of illustrations, maps, and appendixes of riders and relay stations (some of which still exist), "The Saga of the Pony Express" is a meticulously researched and deftly written chronicle that is as entertaining as it is informed and informative. Very highly recommended for personal, community and academic library American Western History reference collections and supplemental studies lists.

Peter Oakes
Baker Academics
c/o Baker Publishing Group
6030 East Fulton, Ada, MI 49301
9780801032752, $30.00, 240pp,

Synopsis: In "Galatians" (the newest volume in the outstanding Baker Academics 'Paideia Commentaries on the New Testament series), respected New Testament scholar Peter Oakes (Greenwood Senior Lecturer in the New Testament at the University of Manchester) offers a translation and reading of Galatians as presenting a gospel of unity in diversity in Christ. He shows that Paul treats the Galatians' possible abandonment of his gospel as putting at stake their fidelity to Christ. As with other volumes in the Paideia series, this volume is conversant with contemporary scholarship, draws on ancient backgrounds, and attends to the theological nature of the text. Students, pastors, and other readers will appreciate the historical, literary, and theological insight offered in this practical commentary.

Critique: Impressively well written, organized and presented, Professor Peter Oakes' "Galatians" is an extraordinary and highly informative contribution to New Testament Studies in general, and the analysis of the Apostle Paul's letter to the Galatians in particular. Very highly recommended for community, seminary, and academic library New Testament Studies collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that this impressive study of "Galatians" is also available in a Kindle edition ($16.50).

Open Your Heart
David P. Sandell
University of Notre Dame Press
310 Flanner Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556
9780268041465, $29.00, 240pp,

Synopsis: "Open Your Heart: Religion and Cultural Poetics of Greater Mexico" is an ethnographic study of Catholic religious practice in Fresno, California, in which David P. Sandell (Associate Professor of Anthropology, Texas Christian University) unveils ritualized storytelling that Mexican and Mexican American people of faith use to cope with racism and poverty associated with colonial, capitalist, and modern social conditions. Based on in-depth interviews and extensive field research conducted in 2000 and 2001, Professor Sandell's work shows how people use story and religious ritual (including the Matachines dance, the Mass, the rosary, pilgrimage, and processions) to create a space in their lives free from oppression. These people give meaning to the expression "open your heart," the book argues, through ritual and stories, enabling them to engage the mind and body in a movement toward, as one participant said, "the sacred center" of their lives. Professor Sandell persuasively argues that the storytelling represents a tradition of poetics that provides an alternative, emancipatory epistemology. Americo Paredes, for example, defined this tradition in his scholarship of border balladry. According to Paredes, storytelling with ritual elements raises a feature of performance characterized as a convivial disposition and shared sense of identity among people who call themselves Mexican not for national identification but for a cultural one, understood as "Greater Mexico." Sandell contributes to this tradition and achieves an understanding of Greater Mexico characterized by people whose stories and rituals help them find common ground, unity, and wholeness through an open heart.

Critique: Exceptionally well researched, organized and presented, "Open Your Heart: Religion and Cultural Poetics of Greater Mexico" is a seminal work of outstanding scholarship that is as informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. Enhanced with twenty-two pages of Notes; a twenty-two page bibliography of Works Cited; and a twenty-one page Index, "Open Your Heart: Religion and Cultural Poetics of Greater Mexico" is very highly recommended for community and academic library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Open Your Heart: Religion and Cultural Poetics of Greater Mexico" is also available in a Kindle edition ($22.91).

Information 2.0
Martin de Saulles
Facet Publishing
7 Ridgmount Street, London, England, WC1E 7AE
9781783300099, $49.95, 192pp,

Synopsis: Now in a completely updated and expanded section edition, "Information 2.0: New Models of Information Production, Distribution and Consumption" provides an overview of the digital information landscape and explains the implications of the technological changes for the information industry, from publishers and broadcasters to the information professionals who manage information in all its forms. Featuring examples of organizations and individuals who are seizing on the opportunities thrown up by this once-in-a-generation technological shift, this fully updated second edition provides a cutting-edge guide to where we are going both as information consumers and in terms of broader societal changes. Each chapter explores aspects of the information life cycle, including production, distribution, storage and consumption and contains case studies chosen to illustrate particular issues and challenges facing the information industry. One of the key themes of "Information 2.0" is the way that organizations, public and commercial, are blurring their traditional lines of responsibility. Amazon is moving from simply selling books to offering the hardware and software for reading them. Apple still makes computer hardware but also manages one of the world s leading marketplaces for music and software applications. Google maintains its position as the most popular internet search engine but has also digitized millions of copies of books from leading academic libraries and backed the development of the world s most popular computing platform, Android. At the heart of these changes are the emergence of cheap computing devices for decoding and presenting digital information and a network which allows the bits and bytes to flow freely, for the moment at least, from producer to consumer. While the digital revolution is impacting on everyone who works with information, sometimes negatively, the new edition of "Information 2.0" shows that the opportunities outweigh the risks for those who take the time to understand what is going on. Information has never been more abundant and accessible, so those who know how to manage it for the benefit of others in the digital age will be in great demand.

Critique: Exceptionally well organized, comprehensive, informed and informative, "Information 2.0: New Models of Information Production, Distribution and Consumption" is an extraordinary and highly recommended addition to personal, professional, academic, and corporate reference collections and digital information instruction supplemental studies reading lists.

Fueled By Failure
Jeremy Bloom
Entrepreneur Press
c/o The McGraw Hill Companies
Two Penn Plaza, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10121-2298
9781599185637, $21.95, 180pp,

Synopsis: In the pages of "Fueled By Failure: Using Detours and Defeats to Power Progress", Olympian and former NFL player now thriving as a CEO and Philanthropist, Jeremy Bloom pulls at the common thread that unites him with all of us: the defeats we encounter on our journeys to reach our goals. Sharing his hard-earned insights, advice, and practices including lessons from respected coaches, phenomenal athletes, and highly successful business leaders, Bloom coaches you in tackling defeats (big and small) and using them to drive, not derail, your success. "Fueled By Failure" covers: How to rebound and reprogram after defeat
How to utilize the lessons from failures; Which motivators evoke winning results; Tactics for managing expectations for yourself and/or your team; How to create a badass business culture; Leaving a legacy.

Critique: Impressively well written, organized and presented, "Fueled By Failure: Using Detours and Defeats to Power Progress" is very highly recommended for community and academic library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. For life-changing personal reading lists it should be noted that "Fueled By Failure" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Willis M. Buhle

Burroughs' Bookshelf

Dark Road, Dead End
Philip Cioffari
Livingston Press
University of West Alabama
Station 22, Livingston, AL 35470
9781604891409, $30.00, 215pp,

Synopsis: Walter Morrison, working undercover for the U.S. Customs Service, has been in town less than three weeks; but already he s seen evidence of wildlife smuggling, boatloads of exotic species of birds and mammals ferried in the dead of night through the fast-running streams of the Everglades. And what he s seen is only part of a vast criminal enterprise that supplies these rare and endangered species nationwide to pet stores, private hunt clubs, wildlife safari parks and even to highly respectable municipal zoos. To make matters worse, someone in his own agency has set the clock ticking on what could be the last seventy-two hours of his life.

Critique: A suspensive thriller of a read from beginning to end, "Dark Road, Dead End" documents novelist Philip Cioffari as a master storyteller of the first order. Very highly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Dark Road, Dead End" is also available in a paperback edition (9781604891416, $17.95).

The Curse of Anne Boleyn
C. C. Humphreys
Sourcebooks Inc.
1935 Brookdale Road, #139, Naperville, IL 60563
9781402282300, $14.99, 416pp,

Synopsis: Nearly twenty years have passed since Anne Boleyn died at the hands of her slayer and savior, Jean Rombaud. All he wants is to forget his sword-wielding days and live happily with his family. Yet her distinctive six-fingered hand, stolen at her death (and all the dark power it represents) still compels evil men to seek it out. When Jean's son, Gianni, joins the Inquisition in Rome and betrays all his father worked for, Jean discovers that time alone cannot take him (or his son) far from his past. But he never expected his whole family, especially his beloved daughter Anne, to become caught up once more in the tragic queen's terrible legacy.

Critique: "The Curse of Anne Boleyn" is the sequel to C. C. Humphreys' extraordinary novel "The French Executioner". Humphrey's attention to historical detail, his deftly crafted characters, combined with a storyline replete with unexpected twists and turns, makes for an engaging and thoroughly entertaining read from beginning to end. "The Curse of Anne Boleyn" is very highly recommended for community library Historical Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Curse of Anne Boleyn" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Cruising With Kate
Bernard F. Conners
British American Publishing
19 British American Boulevard, Latham, NY 12110
Kelly & Hall Book Publicity
9780945167570, $29.95, 368pp,

Synopsis: Buckle up and enjoy a rollicking ride with Bernard and "Cool Kate," his unflappable wife, on a memorable trip behind the scenes at diverse places such as corporate boardrooms, The Paris Review, and the FBI, with jaunts to Hollywood and the Hamptons and points in between. Watch for the bold-faced names as you rove through Manhattan, from the staid and proper 21 Club to dining with the stars at Elaine's. Marvel at the challenges confronting Bernard as publisher of The Paris Review, while mixing with New York's literati, including Norman Mailer, Truman Capote, Gore Vidal, and George Plimpton. Shiver with Bernard's "Butterflies" as he struggles to balance his day job surveying top hoods under the watchful eye of J. Edgar Hoover with his nighttime frolics as an arriviste among Manhattan's haute monde. Hang on as Bernard authors and publishes best-selling books while negotiating with Hollywood auteurs and producing award-winning films. Feel his uncertainty during the dreaded author tours as he appears on the Today Show and the BBC. Follow the insecure Bernard's nouveau riche climb up New York's social ladder from a tiny two-room penthouse to the board of a Fifth Avenue residence and - finally - to a lavish upstate Xanadu.

Critique: "Cruising with Kate: A Parvenu in Xanadu" is a deftly crafted and inherently fascinating read from beginning to end. But that's to be expected from someone who is identified with The Bernard F. Conners Prize for Poetry which is given by the Paris Review for the finest poem over 200 lines published in The Paris Review in a given year. "Cruising with Kate: A Parvenu in Xanadu" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library collections.

Anatomy of a Kidnapping: A Doctor's Story
Steven L. Berk, M.D.
Texas Tech University Press
PO Box 41037, Lubbock, TX 79409-1037
MM Book Publicity
9780896729346, $18.95, 248pp,

Synopsis: In March 2005, Dr. Steven Berk was kidnapped in Amarillo, Texas, by a dangerous and enigmatic criminal who entered his home, armed with a shotgun, through an open garage door. Dr. Berk's experiences and training as a physician, especially his understanding of Sir William Osler's treatise on aequanimitas, enabled him to keep his family safe, establish rapport with his kidnapper, and bring his captor to justice. This harrowing story is not just about a kidnapping. "Anatomy of a Kidnapping: A Doctor's Story" is about patients, about physicians, and about what each experience has taught Doctor Berk about life and death, mistakes, family, the practice of medicine, and the physician-patient relationship. It is a story about how Doctor Berk's profession prepared him for an unpredictable situation and how any doctor must address life's uncertainties.

Critique: Exceptionally well written and presented, "Anatomy of a Kidnapping: A Doctor's Story" is an inherently fascinating read from first page to last, making it a very highly recommended addition to community and academic library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Anatomy of a Kidnapping: A Doctor's Story" is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.69).

Public Space Acupuncture
Helena Casanova & Jesus Hernandez
Brian Brash
National Sales Manager
Actar D
c/o ActarBirkhauser Distribution
151 Grand Street, 5th floor, New York, NY 10013
9780989331708, $34.95, 350pp,

Synopsis: As the financial crisis deepens in many European countries and the construction sector remains in a slump, many plans for urban regeneration have been shelved. Cities are cutting their spending on large public works, so the time is ripe for low-cost strategies that have a positive impact on the urban habitat. One such strategy is Public Space Acupuncture, in which independent, but coordinated small interventions help regenerate urban public space and city life. Public Space Acupuncture is based on Zygmunt Bauman's characterization of the current era as Liquid Modernity. "Public Space Acupuncture" by architects Helena Casanova and Jesus Hernandez analyzes key factors in operational strategies including citizen participation, short-term and flexible processes developed through a variety of temporary, low-cast, mutating, nomadic or artistic interventions.

Critique: An inherently fascinating, informed and informative read, "Public Space Acupuncture" is impressively well written, organized and presented. "Public Space Acupuncture" is strongly recommended for professional and academic Architectural Studies reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

The Ville
Greg Donaldson
Empire State Editions
c/o Fordham University Press
2546 Belmont Avenue
University Box L, Bronx, NY 10458-5172
9780823265671, $29.95, 416pp,

Synopsis: In Brownsville's twenty-one housing projects, the young cops and the teenagers who stand solemnly on the street corners are bitter and familiar enemies. The Ville, as the Brownsville-East New York section of Brooklyn is called by the locals, is one of the most dangerous places on earth-a place where homicide is a daily occurrence. Now, Greg Donaldson, a veteran urban reporter and a longtime teacher in Brooklyn's toughest schools, evokes this landscape with stunning and frightening accuracy in an updated edition of "The Ville: Cops and Kids in Urban America". A writer, actor, and teacher, Donaldson follows a year in the life of two urban black males from opposite sides of the street. Gary Lemite, an enthusiastic young Housing police officer, charges recklessly into gunfire in pursuit of respect and promotion. Sharron Corley, a member of a gang called the LoLifes and the star of the Thomas Jefferson High School play, is also looking for respect as he tries to survive these streets. Brilliantly capturing the firestorm of violence that is destroying a generation, waged by teenagers who know at thirty yards the difference between a MAC-10 machine pistol and a .357 Magnum, "The Ville" is the story of our inner cities and the lives of the young men who remain trapped there.

Critique: A seminal contribution to our on-going national dialogue with respect to the social issues arising from law enforcement and the minority communities they police, "The Ville: Cops and Kids in Urban America" is impressively well written, organized, and presented. Very highly recommended for both the non-specialist general reader, academia, and governmental authorities, "The Ville: Cops and Kids in Urban America" should be a part of all college and university Contemporary American Social Issues reference collections in general, and Urban Studies/African-American Studies supplemental reading lists in particular. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Ville: Cops and Kids in Urban America" is also available in a Kindle edition ($14.99).

Blueprint for Tomorrow
Prakash Nair
Harvard Education Press
8 Story Street, 1st floor, Cambridge, MA 02138
9781612507040, $26.95, 216pp,

Synopsis: The United States has about $10.5 trillion tied up in aging school facilities. School districts throughout the country spend about $30 billion every year keeping this infrastructure going. Yet almost all of the new money we pour into school facilities reinforces an existing (and obsolete) model of schooling. In "Blueprint for Tomorrow: Redesigning Schools for Student-Centered Learning", Prakash Nair draws upon his years of experience and expertise in school designer to explores the hidden messages that our school facilities and classrooms convey and advocates for the "alignment" of the design of places in which we teach and learn with twenty-first-century learning goals. "Blueprint for Tomorrow" provides simple, affordable, and versatile ideas for adapting or redesigning school spaces to support student-centered learning. In particular, the author focuses on ways to use current spending to modify existing spaces, and explains which kinds of adaptations offer the biggest return in terms of student learning. "Blueprint for Tomorrow" is organized by area ranging from classrooms to cafeterias, and is richly illustrated throughout, including "before and after" features, "smart idea" sidebars, and "do now" suggestions for practical first steps. "Blueprint for Tomorrow" outlines key principles for designing spaces that support today's learning needs and includes tools to help educators evaluate the educational effectiveness of their own spaces.

Critique: Absolutely essential reading for architects, school principles, school district administrators, and school board members given the responsibility for building or rehabilitating K-12 school buildings. Impressively well organized and presented, "Blueprint for Tomorrow: Redesigning Schools for Student-Centered Learning" would also be appropriate for the non-specialist members of PTA organizations seeking to evaluate the adequacy of school building structures serving their community in general and their students in particular. "Blueprint for Tomorrow: Redesigning Schools for Student-Centered Learning" is very strongly recommended for professional, community, and academic library collections. It should be noted that "Blueprint for Tomorrow: Redesigning Schools for Student-Centered Learning" is also available in a Library Binding edition (9781612507057, $60.00).

Nutrition and Disease Management for Veterinary Technicians and Nurses
Ann Wortinger & Kara M. Burns
350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148
9781118509272, $59.99, 272pp,

Synopsis: This newly updated and expanded second edition of "Nutrition and Disease Management for Veterinary Technicians and Nurses" by Ann Wortinger (Hospital Administrator for Affiliated Veterinary Emergency Service PC in Allen Park, Michigan) and Kara M. Burns (President of the Academy of Veterinary Nutrition Technicians) offers a thorough update and significant expansion of this easy-to-use introduction to veterinary nutrition and diet, with broader species coverage, a new section on nutritional management of disease, and many new chapters. "Nutrition and Disease Management for Veterinary Technicians and Nurses" provides a complete reference to veterinary nutrition, from the fundamentals to feeding companion animals of any age and health status; adds information on nutrition in birds, small mammals, and horses to the existing dog and cat coverage; presents a new section on managing disease through nutrition, with 10 new disease chapters; offers additional new chapters on nutritional calculations, types of pet foods, raw food diets, additives and preservatives, nutrition myths, nutritional support, and assisted feeding; includes access to a companion website with case studies, review questions and answers, and the figures from the book in PowerPoint.

Critique: An ideal and comprehensive introduction for veterinary studies, with a great deal of enduring value as a professional reference for practicing veterinarians and veterinary clinic staff members, "Nutrition and Disease Management for Veterinary Technicians and Nurses" is impressively well organized and thoroughly 'reader friendly'. "Nutrition and Disease Management for Veterinary Technicians and Nurses" should be considered an essential addition to professional and academic Veterinarian Studies instructional reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

John Burroughs

Carson's Bookshelf

Decapitating the Union
John C. Fazio
McFarland & Company
PO Box 611, Jefferson NC 28640
9780786497461, $45.00, 420pp,

Synopsis: The general literature on Abraham Lincoln's assassination published over the last 150 years is replete with errors, theories and guesswork. "Decapitating the Union: Jefferson Davis, Judah Benjamin and the Plot to Assassinate Lincoln" by John C. Fazio presents a comprehensive re-examination of the facts in order to correct errors in the record, reconcile differences of opinion, offer explanations for unknowns and evaluate theories. Drawing on hundreds of sources, "Decapitating the Union" covers the prelude to the war, Booth's accomplices and their roles in the conspiracy, the kidnapping ruse that concealed the intended decapitation of the government, the mysteries surrounding key players, the assassination itself, Booth's escape, the pursuit of the fugitives, the death of Booth and the trial and sentencing of his co-conspirators (except John Surratt) and one innocent man. The simple conspiracy theory is rejected by the author in favor of the theory that Booth worked with the complicity of the highest levels of the Confederate government and its Secret Service Bureau, whose twofold purpose was retribution and snatching Southern independence from a weakened and chaotic Federal Government.

Critique: Impressively well and exhaustively researched, organized and presented, "Decapitating the Union: Jefferson Davis, Judah Benjamin and the Plot to Assassinate Lincoln" is a substantial and valued contribution to the growing body of historical literature with reference to the death of Abraham Lincoln. Informed, informative, and thoroughly 'reader friendly', "Decapitating the Union" is enhanced with black-and-white illustrations and period photographs, sixteen pages of Notes, an eight page Bibliography, and a twenty-three page Index. "Decapitating the Union" is very strongly recommended for community and academic library American Civil War reference collections and Abraham Lincoln supplemental studies lists. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Decapitating the Union" is also available in a Kindle edition ($23.99).

Backyard Biodiesel: How to Brew Your Own Fuel
Lyle Estill & Bob Armantrout
New Society Publishers
PO Box 189, Gabriola Island, BC, Canada, V0R 1X0
9780865717855, $24.95, 176pp,

Synopsis: Small-scale home biodiesel production holds a singular attraction for the do-it-yourself enthusiast. While perhaps it can't save the world, this unique renewable fuel is economical, fun to make, better for the environment, and will help you reduce your dependence on Big Oil. And getting started is easier than you think. "Backyard Biodiesel: How to Brew Your Own Fuel is written by Lyle Estill and Bob Armantrout, two recognized experts in the field of small-scale biofuels. This comprehensive hands-on, practical, DIY guide includes: The basics of small-scale brewing--recipes, strategies, and technologies; Advanced backyard analytics and troubleshooting; Safety considerations and regulatory issues; Topping up the tank--how to put your biodiesel to work for you. Making your own fuel is not only possible, it is rewarding. Designed to be accessible to everyone from readers with no prior technical expertise to alternative energy buffs, Backyard Biodiesel is a must-read for any aspiring brewer, packed with everything you need to get up and running quickly and safely.

Critique: An absolutely essential instruction manual and guide for the non-specialist general reader interested in offsetting high fuel costs at the neighborhood gas pump by DIY manufacturing biodiesel fuel, "Backyard Biodiesel: How to Brew Your Own Fuel" is strongly recommended for personal and community library collections. It should be noted that "Backyard Biodiesel: How to Brew Your Own Fuel" is also available in a Kindle edition ($16.99).

Richard L. Black
Shadow Mountain Publishing
P.O. Box 30178, Salt Lake City, Utah 84130-0178
9781609079857, $25.99, 464pp,

Synopsis: A sweeping Christian fiction epic,"Maximus" by Richard L. Black is also part mystery, part detective story and filled throughout with intrigue. General Maximus is a battle-weary commander of one of Rome's finest legions. When he returns from a long, bloody campaign Maximus finds himself questioning his life. Word has reached Rome of a man named Jesus who is causing a stir in faraway Judea. Maximus, disguised as a Jew, is sent to investigate the situation and assess his potential threat to Rome. In this innovative rendering of the story of Christ we see Jesus from the perspective of an outsider who is stripped of his cultural identity and therefore free to ponder whether he can believe Jesus and find a new purpose in his own life.

Critique: Not since "Ben Hur" has there been such an exceptionally well written novel set in the time of Jesus. A terrifically entertaining read, "Maximus" is one of those rare works of fiction that will linger in the mind and memory of the reader long after the novel itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf. Very highly recommended community and academic library Historical Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Maximus" is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.49).

Executing Lean Improvements
Dennis R. Delisle
ASQ Quality Press
600 N. Plankinton Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53201-3005
9780873899093, $75.00, 276pp,

Synopsis: "Executing Lean Improvements: A Practical Guide with Real-World Healthcare Case Studies" provides a structured approach to executing lean improvements with relevant real-world case studies and offers examples of tools and templates along with downloadable files hints, tips, and lessons learned. "Executing Lean Improvements" features Chapter Challenges aimed at giving the reader assignments to apply key concepts and tools in the work setting. The primary audience for "Executing Lean Improvements" are individuals responsible for improvement in healthcare settings, such as lean practitioners, Six Sigma belts, quality improvement specialists, and project managers. Additional health professionals will benefit from the practical application and guidance. Positions include frontline managers and supervisors, improvement teams, professors teaching quality improvement and/or operations management, healthcare professionals responsible for performance improvement, and students in all related health professions (clinical and administrative). "Executing Lean Improvements" promotes practical application. Readers are equipped with the skills to implement lean concepts and tools within their work setting. Additionally, "Executing Lean Improvements" provides insight and strategies for avoiding failure and developing buy-in.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, superbly organized, and deftly presented, "Executing Lean Improvements: A Practical Guide with Real-World Healthcare Case Studies" is especially recommended for professional and academic library Business Management Studies reference collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Executing Lean Improvements" is also available in a Kindle edition ($75.00).

Psychological Testing of Hispanics
Kurt F. Geisinger, editor
American Psychological Association
750 First Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242
9781433819919, $69.95, 336pp,

Synopsis: In a fully revised second edition that takes into account a new generation of assessment research as well as the dynamic changes within America s Hispanic community, "Psychological Testing of Hispanics: Clinical and Intellectual Assessment" provides an up-to-date overview of the clinical testing of Hispanic clients. Today s research on Hispanic clients, their respective cultures and environments, and their psychological health has led to an explosion of measures tailored to their unique needs. "Psychological Testing of Hispanics: Clinical and Intellectual Assessment" provides essential updates on how to use intelligence, neuropsychological, and other clinical measures, and stands as a call to arms to increase awareness, and understanding of a rapidly evolving demographic. "Psychological Testing of Hispanics: Clinical and Intellectual Assessment" is an important text for practitioners who wish to improve their competency in working with this still underserved population.

Critique: Expertly compiled and edited by Kurt F. Geisinger (Director of the Buros Center for Testing and Meierhenry Distinguished University Professor at the University of Nebraska Lincoln) is comprised of sixteen seminal research-based articles by experts in the psychological testing of Hispanics and Spanish speakers. An extraordinary body of work, "Psychological Testing of Hispanics: Clinical and Intellectual Assessment" is a critically import addition to academic and professional Psychology/Psychiatry reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Gillian Laub: Southern Rites
Ken Light
55 Via Farallon, Orinda, CA 94563
9788862084130, $50.00, 160pp,

Synopsis: "Southern Rites" is an original and provocative 12-year visual study of one community's struggle to confront longstanding issues of race and equality. Through her intimate portraits and firsthand testimony, Laub reveals in vivid color the horror and humanity of these complex, intertwined narratives in a small southern community in Georgia's Montgomery county. The photographer's inimitable sensibility (it is the essence and emotional truth of the singular person in front of her lens that matters most) ensures that, however elevated the ideas and themes may be, Laub's striking photographs remain studies of individuals; a chronicle of their courage in the face of injustice, of their suffering and redemption, possessing an unsettling power.

Critique: Powerful images augmented with an informative and inherently fascinating commentary make "Gillian Laub: Southern Rites" a critically important contribution to community and academic library Photography collections, as well as Contemporary American Racial Studies reference collections. Indeed, "Gillian Laub: Southern Rites" could well serve as a template for similar photographic studies of other American communities and social issues.

Cold Frame
P. T. Deutermann
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250059338, $26.99, 304pp,

Synopsis: In "Cold Frame", by P. T. Deutermann, the downtown area of today's Washington, D.C., has become an armed camp as men with assault rifles crouch on top of monuments and buildings. Anti-missile sites bristle on the White House roof. Meter maids carry Glocks and tactical radios -- all in the name of federal CT: a counterterrorism secret committee of government and civilian officials who puts names on a Kill List, and which targets overseas threats to America for termination. When a senior bureaucrat who is part of the Kill List process dies in Washington under mysterious circumstances that include a beautiful woman, a glass of wine, and a bouquet of flowers, Metro detective Av Smith is tasked to investigate. Smith and his fellow detectives soon find themselves besieged by a hornet's nest of intrigue and deception. With the aid of an FBI agent and a reclusive scientist who nurtures unusual interests, Av digs deeper into the mystery --- only to become the target of a plan that reaches into the highest levels of the federal government, and far exceeds the mission of the Kill List itself. Set in contemporary Washington, D.C., amidst the Byzantine counterterrorism bureaucracy, "Cold Frame" is a compelling thriller based on how the military, federal, and local intelligence agencies work (or don't) in the dark world of Washington's never ending War on Terror.

Critique: An absolute masterpiece of a suspense thriller novel, "Cold Frame" takes the reader on a roller coaster ride of unexpected plot twists and turns. A gripping and entertaining novel from first page to last, "Cold Frame" will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Cold Frame" is also available in a Kindle edition ($12.99).

Michael J. Carson

Chapman's Bookshelf

The Atlantis Ship
A. C. Hadfield
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781508819370, $15.99 (PB), $3.99 (Kindle),

This book struck me as short. It's not really at 402 pages, but I read on my Kindle and I don't know that converts. Still, it seemed short, or maybe it just went fast because of the action. I don't know. Something puzzles me about this book.

Any way, we've got this disgruntled former Commonwealth (CW) spaceship Captain Carson Mach who finds himself recalled to active duty, but only on his terms. Seems like the one and only CW Admiral was a friend (former) of Captain Mach and he needs help.

Admiral Morgan is supposed to in charge of protecting the Salus Sphere. He has a large array of Orbital Forts stationed between the outer edge of the Salus Sphere and No-Mans-Space, which is the buffer between the CW and it's enemies. That buffer and those forts were established and built some twenty years ago. There has been peace for all those twenty years, but now it looks like that's all about to change.

A ship has come through a self-generated wormhole and destroyed Orbital Forty. Now, there's a hole in the defense screen. More worry-some is the fact that the ship that destroyed the fort, isn't supposed to exist. It's been identified as the "Atlantis Ship" which is larger than anything currently in any know military fleet. The ship has the most powerful ion cannons and shielding that are far superior to anything currently known to exist. And this ship has been sighted for centuries. It is very old but still keeps coming back to attack different places for unknown reasons. Admiral Morgan must capture this ship and use the technology for the CW or at least disable it from destroying more CW defense installations. He calls on Carson Mach.

Of course, Mach isn't just giving up his freelance days and happily going back into the CW Fleet. No, he wasn't a fat some of money, a CW ship, and freedom to choose his own crew. Then he'll go after the Atlantis Ship as long as it doesn't try to kill him!

So, there you have the gist of the story. Captain Mach goes about finding a bunch of old "friends" who he wants to join his crew. It doesn't matter that one potential crew member is trying to fulfill a contract on him. That contract wants Carson dead. Another potential crew member is a CW fleet officer who accidentally opened an alien artifact which let loose a virus that killed several thousand of his fellow humans. He was, unfortunately, told specifically not to mess with the artifact, but his curiosity got the better of him. The rest of Captain Mach's crew are just a interesting.

You need to read the book to find out if Captain Mach and crew can actually find the Atlantis Ship. If they do that, how do they get close enough to do anything to it? Also, what happens to Mach's mission when Admiral Morgan suddenly decides to turn traitor!

The book was easy to read and pretty exciting. I think I'll follow Carson Mach on some of his future stories, provided he survives this one.

The Collective
Kenan Hillard
Hillcorp, LLC; 1 edition
9780692360736, $2.99 Kindle ebook, $9.99 paperback

Didn't think I was going to like this book because it is an after the apocalypse setting which I don't really care for. But, let me tell you, this IS a good story! It is exciting with a lot of fighting and it could lead to more.

Water is the most scarce resource that the Earth now doesn't have. If you have water, then you control who lives and who dies. There are eight separate "Houses" that have managed to secure all the known water sources or they own a water facility, distilling and purifying water from many sources. If you are either part of one of these families or you're about dead. Most of the families have built great cities with walls to keep out those they deem unworthy. If you live outside the walls, your life is very exciting and often very short. The Houses rule with iron fists. If you're not directly involved in water production, then you're probably a guard. Being a guard is a pretty nice job, but it can cost you your life and you're really not paid that much, of course your life isn't worth much to the House.

Some outside the walls have banded together to form small communities. What they have gets ripped apart by biker gangs who constantly terrorize those who can't fight back. You can get killed very easily if you run afoul of a biker gang or you break one of the House rules about water.

Abel is the young son of a family just barley existing. He hunts with his friends or his Dad to bring enough food to the table to survive, barely, and life for him is really just about his family. His mother is very ill and his father has been really concerned about her. The only think keeping her alive now is that Able's family has a very, very secret water well for their very own use.

How long do you think that secret's going to last? Able comes to have a serious problem with the House Vancrew and specifically its head, First Xonox (don't ask me to pronounce that name!). He needs to take revenge, but probably can't do it himself. Then he meets Warden.

There is a lot of action and some romance in the story. Characters are pretty much explained but nobody really has a background they want to discuss. I don't know how old Abel is, but he certainly grows up in a hurry. He can take care of himself which he does quite often.

The writing is very good. I didn't find hardly any editing errors except for a curious large blank space between some words every so often. I think you'll enjoy this book; not real violent, but a lot of fighting.

Void Contract (Gigaparsec #1)
Scott Rhine
Self Published
List Price: $2.99 Kindle ebook or $8.99 paperback

I have to admit, this was a pretty darn good book once it got going. It was a little slow at the beginning since I had to get familiar with the characters who all are aliens, well, almost all.

The initial scene starts with a mission. You have to get situational awareness really quick because you're introduced to Max Culp as the main guy, but he apparently is working for or with a bunch of Saurians. Saurians are like big lizards while Max is just a human that has some really good multi-species medical skills. He can patch up about anything. The mission they are on is to take out some kind of Phib compound. This Phib is a drug smuggler as well as a war criminal so he's wanted by the Union for a lot of different things. Read the book to find out just what a Phib is.

The action is pretty fast at the beginning and kind of hard to keep up with, but it gets to the point of showing that Max is also an exception to the rule about humans and other species. It seems like most humans and other species have some kind psi abilities which enables them to notice other living creatures. So, those who have a high psi ability are now used as sentries since they can detect a heartbeat several miles away from their location. Max, on the other hand, has no psi abilities, in fact, he comes up completely blank to a psi scan. He, therefore, has the ability to sneak up on people who primarily use their psi to detect others.

Confused yet? Well, don't be. The author explains it all much better than I did and it's not something that's dwelled on throughout the book. Just get through the first few chapters and then you find Max going back to Eden, his home planet, for a mission he isn't really going to complete the right way. He's now working for Saurian starship Captain who's not the best type to work for, but when you're broke and need a job, you take what you can get. And Max plans on taking it all.

Once on Eden, Max is thinking about getting his own starship and crew and heading out to do stuff good for a change. He's tired of killing, but he has to deal with his current mission first. He finds a number of new characters, some human, some not, that will become part of his crew. He's initial side-kick is a "Goat" or at least that's the human name for his species, but Max calls him Reuben. Now I don't know if he looks like a goat or not. Haven't figured that out, but he must be somewhat similar to a human since Max sets about giving him some rudimentary military skills. Otherwise, Reuben might just get them both killed.

The story takes off once on Eden, with Max's plan falling into shape. Unfortunately, one of his previous bad encounters turns at the worse moment, just as he and his new crew were going to depart Eden. Every time you think the book is about to end, something else keeps happening. This is probably going to turn into a very good series now that the main characters have all gotten together. It'll be interesting to see what happens once they have to operate like a crew and a team on new missions.

I look forward to the next book.

Birthright (The Technomage Archive Book 1)
B. J. Keeton
Self Published
No ISBN, $0.00 Kindle ebook or $14.99 paperback

I don't know, I just don't know about this book. On one hand, I know it's not my kind of book, yet on the other, it was very, very interesting! I will tell anyone reading this review up front that this is a very violent book, at least for a couple of scenes. There is a lot of action during the course of the book and it is exciting, but the author can get very graphic, very quickly.

This is a story about a young man going to school to find out what he wants to become, if they will let him. And I will also state very clearly, that this is in no way, a Harry Potterę type story; far from it. Ceril (and yes,my keyboard does want to spell Cereal), is our main guy. He's been working with his Grandpa for most of this summer and for probably a lot of summers past. It doesn't say anything about Ceril's parents, just that he's been working in his Grandpa's garden a lot and they both enjoy doing that. This sounds like a pretty peaceful setting. It is until Ceril finds a sword in the garden.

Yes, Ceril found a real special kind of sword which his Grandpa promptly took away from him and never said anything about it again. Ceril heads back to school again and is ready to start another usual fall term only this year he thinks he's going to get to pick his special field of study. He believes he want to study agriculture in order to go back to his Grandpa's garden and help make it produce more. Now all this sounds pretty boring and it did to me, expect when that sword starts showing up either at Ceril's feet or in his hand! It just appears! Ceril isn't sure why or what is happening, but he has this sword that glows like crazy and he is becoming the attention of lots of professors and even the Head Master.

He's quickly told that he won't be studying agriculture, that's for sure. He sword has shown him to be a budding technomage and that's what he's going to be one way or another. And then to top it off, Ceril accidentally kills a student when the sword appears in both his hand and the chest of a rather large and intimidating student!

It definitely is interesting reading to find out what happens to Ceril over the next six years. He's not actually at the school any more but he is studying. He has to find out how to control the sword through a lot of training and then he has to study just how this sword and others like it came to be. It's not magic, but darn near like magic. If you listen closely to todays news, you'll hear stories about tiny little machines that are now being built to do things for which they are programmed. These are called Nanites and Ceril and his world have tons of them.

Again, not my kind of book, but it really, really is a lot of science fiction. I might just even read the second book, "Lineage", that's already published! It's a good to great story.

Invasion (Invasion Book 1)
Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant
Sterling & Stone
No ISBN, $4.99 Kindle ebook or $10.79 paperback and $19.99 hardcover

This book made me mad, but, that's not bad, really. I believe that when an author(s) can cause an emotional reaction from an unknown reader, then they have done a masterful job of writing, in my very humble opinion. What they did exactly was to make me angry. See I don't think our civilization is really, really nuts! I know there are lots of kooks out there, but you got to give most people some credit. I don't think everyone would act like the book says in just the first few days.

Now, what did they do? Well, as this is somewhat in the future, we've got a telescope on the backside of the moon. It happens to be pointing towards Jupiter at just the right time when bam! Several relatively large round objects are spotted heading for Earth. Of course we have satellites located strategically located around the moon to transmit these pictures to everyone on the internet. There's an immediate wave of panic from the general Earth population. And that's what I don't get.

The thing is, these objects are at least six day away! Six days! So, why does the authors start immediately having everyone on our planet running around in blind panic. Riots break out and people become really, really stupid when not a single thing has happened. I don't believe that would be the case. Of course, I'm an optimist, and certainly not a writer, but you got six days before what ever is in these round balls even get to our planet. Why panic now? You didn't see the good people of Earth do that in the 1951 classic, "The Day the Earth Stood Still", right?

So, the book got me angry right at the start. Then we meet the Dempsey family; the very, very rich Dempsey family. Meyer Dempsey is a billionaire mogul who is also a closet survivalist. He's known something was going to happen and has been preparing for many, many years. How he knows is for you to find out.

The Dempsey family lives in New York City. Meyer Dempsey says they have to get out of NYC immediately after hearing the first report of the alien objects heading towards Earth. Now, as far as I know, no one else has had this kind of forewarning that something is going to happen other than Meyer, but everyone in New York City starts going crazy. Why, I don't know. But, that makes it a harder for the Dempsey family to move on out of the city.

The rest of the book follows this families journey across America for the next six days. Where the heck are they going? Well, Meyer had a secret bunker built below a typical vacation home in Vail, Colorado. His plan is to grab his family, fly his private jet, to some where close to Vail, land and scramble to safety in their fully stocked, forever bunker. Well, his plan fell apart right at the start, as do most plans.

You'll get to know the Dempsey family pretty well. There's also an ex-wife who is still in love with her ex-husband and the new wife thinks that's OK. You'll also meet a couple of teenagers, brother and sister, who have got the surly, know-it-all, idiotic attitude that seems to infect all teenagers. They even pickup an extra member, the daughters boy friend, who you just know is going to get killed at some point. All extras always do, right?

Do they make it to Vail, Co. by plane, car or do they walk. The days are counted down for you so right there the authors have your throat constricting. We're all afraid of the unknown and these alien ball bearing heading for Earth are as unknown as you can get. A very, very exciting book. I hope it makes you mad too!

Oh, yeah, the next book is "Contact" and it's available. The author(s) say there will be a total of seven books in the series. Man, I'm going to be real mad!

Jim Chapman, Reviewer

Gail's Bookshelf

The Pact: Celia Kelly Series, #1
CN Bring
Bad Day Books
Assent Publishing
26 Carleton Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15243
9780983653981, $15.00,

Four years ago Intelligence Officer, Commander Celia Kelly's husband was listed as missing-in-action. Since then the attractive young officer had concentrated on her Navy career. She believes in discipline, "rules, schedules and maintaining precision because she likes the order it gives to her life." That attitude also helped her climb the Navy's chain of command.

To help stay in condition she has a standing Wednesday appointment with her best friend, Commander Frank Scott at Potomac Park. Running through the park in the frosty predawn air

left her invigorated and refreshed. Today Scott's competitive camaraderie lightened her spirit and brought a smile, though he wouldn't let her forget she won by "less than seven inches"

When they separated she said, "see you in an hour" and went home to change. She couldn't know that was the last time she would see her friend. She would only hear an urgent message with a mystifying request. "If I don't come into the office by noon, get the files from the safe behind the Defense manuals on the bookcase."

That same day Commander Kelly learned she'd been assigned to the "biggest mission of her career," a mission that would lead to information about her MIA husband, twenty-million dollars and a stolen cache of weapons. When espionage, a suspicious suicide, an elite SEAL team and a mysterious terrorist group are added, readers have an unpredictable suspense that keeps the pages turning long into the night.

The large and well-developed cast of characters, such as Gwen Sherwood, Commander Kelly's sarcastic, loyal to a fault secretary and Lieutenant Commander Georgie Round, her wound-too-tight newly assigned assistant add dimension and character. The story's character driven plot also includes a touch of romance and a subtle spiritual thread that enhances the story line, captivating readers and holding them hostage until the last page is turned.

I believe CN Bring's award-winning trilogy, The Celia Kelly Mystery Series adds a new and vibrant voice to the field of mystery writers with The Pact, The Lie and The Truth. She's a rare new talent that bears watching as she hones her writing skills. A belief supported by

Blog Talk Radio who says, CN Bring's Celia Kelly series is where" Agatha Christie meets Tom Clancy."

Fans of Covert Affairs, NCIS or CSI and Criminal Minds series would enjoy "The Celia Kelly" series also available on Kindle, Hardback or Paper back

The Day is Waiting
Linda Zuckerman, author
Don Freeman, illustrator
5300 Patterson Avenue SE, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
9780310740544, $9.99,

The Day is Waiting children's storybook encourages a wonderful sense of adventure and childlike wonder in youngsters ages 2-7. Rhyming text by Linda Zuckerman, winner of the Oregon Book Award for A Taste For Rabbit enhance the creative and colorful illustrations of popular illustrator and author Don Freeman's posthumous work. Corduroy, his classic children's storybook published in 1976 was selected by School Library Journal and National Association of Teachers in 2012 as one of the "top 100 Books for Children" of all time.

The whimsical narrative poses three questions.

What do we see?
Where can we go?
What can we do?

Reinforced by the underlying theme, "It's good to know home will be waiting for you" when you return. Sandwiched in between are vibrant images of a watchful kitty-cat, a sassy pigeon, a family of penguins, a capricious goat and a chilly chipmunk among others. Such as a bear on a unicycle, a boy hitching a ride on a turtle and crickets hosting a concert.

Freeman's unique slant places the child as the main character within the story. Zuckerman's paired rhyming text ignites a child's creativity, imagination and sense of adventure as the pages turn. The colorful illustrations of New York, London and foreign lands, reached by way of

ocean liners, airplanes and trains reveal the world is a fascinating place, filled with interesting people, captivating animals and engaging places to visit.

A bible verse from Isaiah 55:12 portrays the book's theme when the last page is turned. "You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands."

The easy and melodic rhythm and rhyme pairs with charming and rich illustrations to create a fun-filled game of pretend as pages turn. Children preparing to move or travel for the first time would enjoy the story and the short sentence structure make it a good choice book for beginning readers.

Author-illustrator Don Freeman died in 1978, one of the most successful children's authors of the 21st century. Zuckerman, his close friend and colleague along with Freeman's wife made this commemorative edition from his never before published artwork.

Gail Welborn, Reviewer

Gary's Bookshelf

James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge
c/o Hachette Book Group USA
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
978145525156, $10.00

"Zoo" is another great read by these two authors. Something has happened around the world. Many different types of animals are attacking humans. Jackson Oz, a biologist considered a crackpot, has a theory that many do not believe. He has to convince the world that his hypothesis is coming true and that they must find a way to stop it from continuing. "Zoo" is a Michael Crichton type of novel in the fold of "Jurassic Park" but much more believable, because the animals are not extinct. The novel races along with a final ending that is realistic and logical. "Zoo" is a total departure from the usual mystery novels these two authors are known for and is a frightening look at how technology has gone wrong. Fans of the CBS mini series will want to read the novel "Zoo" to see how close the series to the book.

Mars, Inc. The Billionaire's Club
Ben Bova
Baen Publishing
P.O. Box 1403, Riverdale, NY 10471
9781476781037, $7.99,

"Mars, Inc. The Billionaire's Club" blasts off in a realistic plot that is a first class science fiction thrill ride. Art Thrasher a very wealthy man, has a very low opinion of anything that government does. He decides that private enterprise can do a much better job of sending a manned mission to Mars than NASA. He decides to enlist the aid of several billionaires to fund a private mission to the red planet. Along the way he has to deal with sabotage of the mission, government red tape, finding a launch site and lots more in a wonderful story of the near future. Bova is one of the best writers of science fiction and "Mars, Inc. The Billionaire's Club" is a perfect example of why.

You Can't Sink A Rainbow
Edgar John L'Heureux, Jr.
Sabal Palm Press
PO Box 756, Goldenrod, FL 32733
97809634117, $11.95,

Edgar L'Herueux Jr. has written a charming novel filled with memorable characters who come alive as the story moves along. The author sets up conflicts of a father and daughter who don't see eye to eye on the issue of some undeveloped land in Central Florida, and the environmentalist versus the developer that are believable and realistically played out. The author is a master wordsmith with his story and its players. "Sam an aging Golden Retriever lifted his head from his paws for a drowsy inspection of the trapeze chatter. The bluejay was soon safe and daybreak quite was restored. Sam stayed awake just long enough to observe what he could view of Sabal Palm Landing without awakening any devout slumber muscles. "Then he plopped his shaggy head back down on his head back down on his front paws and returned to canine dreamland." The story is timely and L'Heureux's writing ranks in the class of a John Cheever or John Updike novel "You Can't Sink A Rainbow" is a great read for anyone who cares about protecting the areas of the state where we can all still fish and go boating.

Bite Me
Tom Levine
Defiant Worm Books
Orlando Florida
9780972939003, $19.26,

Bite me is filled with tales of fishing by a great Floridian who tells it like it is. Doug Strange editor in chief of In-Fisherman Publications in the forward has a keen eye of who and what Levine is. "By all accounts, an unusual life it has been. World traveler, indeed explorer. Poor-man's politician: The man who ran for mayor of Orlando without a dime in his coffers. Will be mayor for food his campaign pledge. Mostly though, just a man who has an unusual take on the most usual things in life, especially, things having to do with the outdoors....Levine's stories are a curious and invigorating deviation from the status quo, for he freely travels on paper where others would not-could not go...he writes with enthusiasm, offering his unusual take on events in life as it unfolds around him." The writing is like the man, offbeat and fun to read. Levine has a very interesting slant on fishing and anything dealing with the world of nature. At times the pieces will make you laugh out loud, while others make you think. All are charming pieces by a master storyteller who has finally found his niche.

Bass Fishing in Outer Space and other stories
Tom Levine
Defiant Worm Books
9780972939027, $19.26,

Tom Levine once again tells many wonderful fish tales in his collection "Bass Fishing in Outer Space and other stories." Levine takes the reader on a witty journey of what it is like to fish in Florida with tall tales that are laugh out loud Levine is a master of the genre and "Bass Fishing in Outer Space and other stories" is a shining example of why.

Dragonspeak: Drew the Boy Who Talked to Dragons
Andrew Robinson
Cricket Cottage Publishing
409 Hoffner Aveune # 127, Orlando, Florida 32812
97814776556634, $9.99,

10 year old Drew escapes some bullies and is tired of the constant arguments his parents are always having believing they do not care about him. He stumbles upon a cave and finds that his life is never the same afterwards. Now he enters a world filled with all kinds of new exciting things for him to do including talk to dragons. "Dragonspeak Drew the Boy Who Talked to Dragons" is a YA magical fantasy adventure that is filled with interesting characters, great dialogue a wonderful ending that is a set up for other adventures of Drew in the future. Fans of fantasy should love "Dragonspeak Drew the Boy Who Talked to Dragons"

Rattlesnake Romeo
Joy Wellman
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp
119 West 40th Street, New York, NY 10018
9780786017065, $6.50,

Society often asks, "How could children kill their parents?" In "Rattlesnake Romeo" it is easy to see why. Valesa and her two male friends murdered her mother Vicki Lyn Robinson. The three were into the rave clubs and drug scene in Tampa, Florida. In a drugged state they went to the Robinson's home and killed Valesa's mother in the kitchen. Later they left the body in a trash can on an empty lot then went on a spree with her credit card. Police later tracked them down and had a shootout in Texas. The story was broadcast on "48 Hours" Readers now get a chance to peek behind the surface and see what happens when the wrong type of person influences a teenager.

Speed Demon
Goldie Gutenberg
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp
119 West 40th Street, New York, NY 10018
9780786017218, $6.50

"Speed Demon" is the true story of a rich queen of market research who killed her own daughter, her daughter's best friend and caused their friend to sustain permanent brain damage, when she roared down a highway, lost control of her BMW and smashed into a tree. Her world of wealth is toppled as she fights to stay out of jail by blaming the cruise control, on her car instead of taking responsibility for her actions. Many will remember this local case that was shown on an episode of "48 Hours." "Speed Demon delves deep into the world of Mary Hill and shows that this case is a travesty of justice.

ProActive Nutrition With A Brazilian Twist
Lucia Camara, HHC, AADP
Wellness and Nutrition Institute
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
97812937183226, $24.95,

Unlike many cookbooks that preach health issues "ProActive Nutrition with A Brazilian Twist" is filled with many different wonderful tasty recipes. Camara explains the importance of using vegetables, fruits, herbs, nuts, seeds, and other things in the preparation of meals. There are all kinds of delicious recipes starting with appetizers and ending with breakfast items that are wonderful ways to try something totally different and eat a healthy balance meal for all different times of the day or night. Many of them are fish seafood related and are new interesting recipes. "ProActive Nutrition with A Brazilian Twist" is a surefire cookbook that has a lot of new items to try.

Asian Flavors Diabetes Cookbook: Simple Fresh Meals Perfect for Every Day
Corinne Trang
American Diabetes Association
1701 North Beaureguard Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22311
97815804501, $19.95,

Though "Asian Flavors Diabetes Cookbook: Simple Fresh Meals Perfect For Every Day" is geared toward people concerned with Diabetes, it really is for all of us to look into to eat more healthy meals. The ideas here are not new, but just borrowing from what Asians have know for a long time that food in balance is healthy. Many of the foods including many wonderful seafood and fish recipies sound tasty and anyone trying to lose weight should consider this fine resource to achieve that purpose.

Gary Roen

Gina's Bookshelf

Windstalker: Awareness
K. M. Baginski
150853960X, $13.99 pbk / $2.99 Kindle,

Windstalker: Awareness is a shifter romance fantasy novel written by K. M. Baginski.

Mitchell is in love with Chelsea. Chelsea is in love with Drew. When he's executed for the murder of his father Mitchell sees it as an opportunity to become better acquainted with his love interest. However, someone or something will never let that happen. A threatening note followed by an eerie attack on his younger sister Gina, leaves Mitchell, Chelsea and Gina's fiancee Jake wondering what exactly it was they saw that night. Each day brings Gina that much closer to death as it becomes a race against the clock to not only find a cure but to figure out who or what attacked her and how to stop it before it has the chance to kill them all.

This book was disappointing in that it had such great potential to become an epic fantasy novel. However, after chapter 29 it was just drawn out to the point of exhaustion. Furthermore, the conclusion makes you wonder where the rest of the story is. Fantasy lovers may enjoy it but for others it will be a one time read.

The Smiley-Face Witches
George Traikovich
Amazon Digital Services
B00RQGWZEA, $0.99,

The Smiley-Face Witches, by George Traikovich, is the second installment of the Crypto-Punk Series.

Four years ago Bixby Elementary's water tower went down during a class experiment gone wrong. To make matters worse, schools are being blown up, people are slipping into comas, Enzyme Seven has resurfaced in the form of candy bars and Drew has gone missing. Now it's up to Clementine, Grady, Newton and Spider to put the missing pieces of the puzzle together and solve the mystery that is EZ8 before its too late for everyone.

First off, if you did not read Crypto-Punk, the first book in the series, you will be completely lost. That being said, it was a very interesting sequel. Even though all seventeen chapters were a bit lengthy there was so much action and adventure that you'll hardly even notice it. Still, depending on how fast you read it will take you a good three to four days to get through it. However, this is one series that you will want to read again.

Jessika Klide
1511996684, $14.99,

Untouchable, by Jessika Klide, is an erotic romance novel that will get your juices flowing.

Siri is an erotic entertainer who leads a double life. Ordinary girl by day and Surreal, the one hit Vegas wonder, by night. When an accident forces her to return home for the first time in years the plan is to not stay any longer than is necessary. That is until the moment Aurei Moore enters into her life and changes everything. Their connection is instantaneous and ignites a passion deep down inside of both of them. However, they each bear dark secrets which, when exposed, could tear their relationship apart.

From the moment you first meet Siri you will fall in love with her. She's feisty, fearless and fun. Klide puts an entirely different spin on erotic romance and it works. The front cover does not do this book justice at all. Enticing and wildly entertaining, this is one series that you will want to add to your erotic romance collection. Unstoppable, the second installment of the Siri's Saga, is now available on Amazon Kindle.

Time is Relative for a Knight of Time
Brett Matthew Williams
1470029456, $18.99 pbk / $2.99 Kindle,

Time is Relative for a Knight of Time is a historic fantasy novel written by Brett Matthew Williams.

Rolland Wright is a seventeen year old orphan who wants nothing more than to have a normal life. Unbeknownst to him, that was something that he'd never have. He was special and the wrong people knew it. During a late night attack on his life Rolland not only discovers that he has a strange ability to slow the flow of time around him but he also meets seven mythical figures known as the Knights of Time. Like him they also have supernatural powers. Suddenly realizing that he holds the key to going back in time and solving his mother's murder Rolland tries using his newfound talent.

However, an overdose of power opens a time portal which takes all eight knights on a journey outside the realm of time and space and dumps them smack dab in the middle of the war between General Andrew Jackson and the Seminole Indians. Separated, captured by the enemy on both fronts, tortured and followed by a force of evil that none of them saw coming, Rolland, Turtledove, Joan, Judah, Tina, Sephanie and Victor must find a way to survive, come back together and make it back home to the future before they alter the course of history as we know it.

From 1816 to 1819 General Andrew Jackson led an invasion of Spanish Florida during the First Seminole War. Although some sources differ Brett Matthew Williams' 2012 novel suggests that there's an entire chunk of time which would never be recorded in the written word of man. Let me make one thing very clear, you don't have to be a history buff or a lover of fantasy in order to enjoy this book. It's a thrilling ride back to the past with engaging characters which will keep you entertained right up until the very end. The historical accuracy and perfect timing throughout the entirety of this novel builds to the credibility of the author and leaves you with the notion that his follow-up novel will also be considered fantasy at its finest.

Gina Marie Stanish, Reviewer

Gloria's Bookshelf

Assault with a Deadly Lie
Lev Raphael
Terrace Books
c/o University of Wisconsin Press
1930 Monroe St., 3rd fl., Madison WI 53711-2059
9780299302306, $26.95, Hardcover, 176 pp,

From the first page, the reader is thrust into the world of Nick Hoffman and his spouse, Stefan Borowski, a world which is suddenly turned upside down, into nothing for which their imaginations or their lives up until then could have possibly prepared them. Nick is a full professor at the State University of Michigan (SUM), and heads a departmental speaker's program, a Fellowship in his name, endowed by a former straight-A student with the proviso that Nick be the sole administrator. Stefan is a best-selling author and the university's writer-in-residence. They have lived together for over 20 years, until their former relatively quiet lives are disrupted when a SWAT team barges into their home one night, searches the house, and takes Stefan into the police station. Nick ponders how his and Stefan's lives could have been upended in this way, "blithely unaware that disaster was about to tear apart my assumptions that life was solid and safe."

In quick succession over the next several days, things only get worse, with threatening phone calls, at home and on campus, Nick being followed and harassed, someone breaking into their home, and his and Stefan's positions at the university, where they have been teaching for 15 years, in jeopardy as well. The author so convincingly portrays their plight that I found myself in a state of heightened awareness during the few short days it took me to read this page-turner of a book.

Elizabeth is Missing
Emma Healey
Harper Perennial
c/o HarperCollins
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780062309686, $15.99, Paperback, 320 pp,

"Elizabeth is missing" is the sole notation made on most of the innumerable notes that Maud Horsham constantly makes and puts in any available pocket, as a hoped-for aid to her increasingly failing memory. Maud is in an advancing state of dementia, and more often than not cannot remember where she is, or with whom, even when the latter is her daughter, or her granddaughter (sometimes mistaking the latter for the former). But she knows that her best friend - indeed, just about her only remaining friend, as she remembers "The others are in homes or in graves" - appears to be missing. She takes any path she can conjure up to try to solve the mystery, resorting to putting an ad in the local newspaper for any information anyone may have as to her whereabouts.

And her friend Elizabeth is not the only 'disappeared' person Maud is trying to track down. Even 70 years later (which doesn't matter so much when one has no idea of time frames), Maud is still trying to find her sister, Sukey, missing since the time after the London blitz, when Maud was 15 years old and England was still trying to recover from the war, enduring rationed food and bombed-out homes. The narrative, such as it is, jumps back and forth in time, from looking for her sister to searching for her friend, sometimes for both at seemingly the same time. It is often difficult just to follow where Maud is, both for Maud herself as well as for the reader.

This book is unlike any I have ever read. Maud is the first-person narrator, and that narrative is as disjointed as Maud's mind, conveying, quite convincingly, that state of being. I must admit to a feeling of 'there but for the grace of G-d go...' well, I, or indeed any of us. The novel is one that literally haunted me well after I had finished reading it, and I suspect it may do that for many readers.


River of Glass
Jaden Terrell
The Permanent Press
4170 Noyac Rd., Sag Harbor NY 11963
9781579623609, $29.00, Hardcover, 272 pp,

This is the third mystery featuring Jared McKean, 36-year-old former member of Metro Nasvhille's now defunct Murder Squad, is now working as a private detective. The tale opens with what is in effect a prologue from the p.o.v. of Tuyet, a young girl who it seems had left Vietnam determined to find a new life in America and who, it soon becomes clear, is a virtual prisoner among fourteen other young women in what is apparently a sex slave/trafficking ring.

Jared becomes involved in the ultimate search for the girl when he is approached by Khan, a woman who it would appear is his half-sister, born of a relationship with his now-deceased father, and who is in turn Tuyet's mother, searching for her daughter. This is complicated by the nearly simultaneous discovery outside of Jared's office of the body of a murdered 19-year-old Vietnamese girl, with Jared's address and phone number and a photo of his father in her pocket.

Interspersed periodically are other chapters from the p.o.v. of Tuyet, which make fascinating reading, and make the horror of her situation that much more visceral. The victims of the ring are enslaved, beaten, raped, tortured, and sold to serial "members" of the group, the leaders of which ring are nearly impossible to track down. (I should add that there are few graphic details of any of this, happily.) Jared, working as a "consultant" with the local police, is assisted in his efforts by Khan, who will not be turned aside. As she says, "I know. You work alone. I come with you." The pace of the story picks up as Jared's investigation starts to heat up, and then becomes a real page-turner as it moves toward a riveting finale. Recommended.

Sorrow Bound
David Mark
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780147516251, $16.00, Paperback, 368 pp,

This is the third entry in the series featuring Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy, and is every bit as terrific as the first two. McAvoy is with the Yorkshire Serious and Organized Crime Unit, in the small English city of Hull, still working on a series of crimes committed by a vicious group seeking to take over the drug trade previously run by Vietnamese, something they had not been able to do in "Original Skin," the predecessor novel. England has been going through a prolonged and oppressive hot spell, although the sky holds promise of a saturating rain storm at any moment.

The Scottish McAvoy, described as "a humble, shy giant of a man" at 6' 5", passionately in love with his much younger Romany wife, his young son and baby daughter and preparing to move into their new home, has been directed to attend sessions with a police-approved counselor because of perceived emotional problems. In a separate plot line, McAvoy is assigned the investigation into two killings which take place within 24 hours. McAvoy is second-guessing himself, and his career choice: "He has done this too many times. Sat in too many rooms with too much grief; felt too many eyes upon him as he made his promises to the dead . . . insists that he does his job as a police officer before he allows himself to become a human being." Despite being written mostly with a light touch, the murders are quite sadistic, and it is speculated that a serial, probably deranged, killer is on the loose. The only connection between the victims seems to relate to events almost 15 years in the past, an even more horrific series of crimes perpetrated by a man who was incarcerated but sentenced to treatment in a psychiatric facility, and is now mostly incapacitated by a stroke.

The supporting cast of characters/police colleagues is very well-drawn, as usual: D.S. Trish Pharoah (with "four kids and a crippled husband" and a drinking problem, DIs Helen Tremberg and Shaz Archer et al, and McAvoy's wife, Roisin. The novel is wonderfully well written, and gradually the suspense mounts until, with less than a hundred pages to go, I became actually fearful of reading further, not wanting to find out what is about to happen next, as I nonetheless started turning pages more and more quickly. The only certain thing about the plot is that one must expect the unexpected.

Highly recommended.

All Day and a Night
Alafair Burke
Harper Paperbacks
c/o HarperCollins
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780062208392, $15.99, Paperback, 368 pp,

Ellie Hatcher, a detective with the NYPD, and her partner, Jeffrey James ("J.J.") Rogan, working homicide in the 13th Precinct, return in the fifth entry in this wonderful series by Alafair Burke. The pair have conflicted reactions when Ellie's boyfriend, ADA Max Donovan, assigns them, on behalf of the Conviction Integrity Unit, as a "fresh look" team to look into the 18-year-old murder conviction of Anthony Amaro, a man who had been put away as a serial killer and is serving a life sentence without chance of parole (in prison slang, "all day and a night," "all day" simply being a life sentence). The problem arises when a Park Slope psychotherapist is found murdered in a manner identical to that of the women Amaro had been accused of killing [those having apparently all been working prostitutes], and the police start receiving anonymous tips. Things get more complex when there is a question about the possibly coerced confession made by Amaro to one of the murders, the fallout of that being a review of all 'confessions' elicited by that same cop, again reminiscent of something along similar lines in New York in recent years.

The rather obscure DA unit handles cases of "wrongful conviction," of which there have been many successful ones over recent years. The attorney who represents Amaro here is Linda Moreland, a celebrity trial lawyer with 8 exoneration wins under her belt, who in turn contacts Carrie Blank, a former law student of Moreland and now an attorney with a prestigious law firm who is the step-sister of one of the victims, killed many years ago in Utica, NY. Carrie can't refuse, hoping she can gain some insight into her step-sister's murder. The novel's point-of-view alternates accordingly, with the parallel investigations.

The writing completely captures the toxic atmosphere currently plaguing the US and, especially, New York City, with regard to community vis-a-vis police relations, and the stop-and-frisk policy just recently changed by New York's current mayor. The case revolves around both venues, the upstate New York area where most of the murders occurred and where the most recent victim once worked, as well as the New York area, now home to Ellie [originally from Wichita, Kansas], Rogan, Max and the author as well. The novel moves ingeniously and quickly to a terrific conclusion, with several unexpected twists and turns along the way. The author gets everything right, with many 'ripped from the headlines' story lines, and the book is highly recommended.

The Bone Orchard
Paul Doiron
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9781250067425, $15.99, Paperback, 352 pp.,

With this, his fifth novel, Paul Doiron seems poised to join the few outstanding authors, headed IMHO by William Kent Krueger, who bring to vivid life the landscape, beauty and inhabitants (both the human and wildlife variety) of the northernmost parts of the United States, the states bordering Canada - - a lofty perch, to be sure. In this instance, that means Maine, 'the most rural state in the country.' The protagonist is Mike Bowditch, 27 years old and a former game warden [who in Maine have all the powers of state troopers], now working as a hunting and fishing guide in the North Woods. The book opens in a rainy month of May, when a a tragedy has just taken place: Mike's friend, Jimmy Gammon, scion of a powerful and politically connected family, not long after returning home from Afghanistan with horrific injuries, has been fatally shot in a "suicide by cop" scenario. To make matters worse, one of the two cops involved is Mike's friend and mentor, Sgt. Kathy Frost.

In a state with the highest percentage of Afghanistan war vets in the nation, sympathies are decidedly against the cop, who says she acted in self-defense. When Mike goes to Kathy's house to offer his support, he comes upon a scene where a sniper has shot Kathy as she exited her house, leaving her grievously wounded and clinging to life, and Mike himself is wounded when he interrupts the encounter. Mike, who has two such incidents in his past where he had no choice but to fire his weapon in self-defense with lethal results, is determined to track down the perpetrator.

Mike had served 3 years as a game warden but had resigned his position two months earlier, a decision he second-guesses on nearly a daily basis. His former colleagues are wary of trusting him now, making his investigation that much more difficult. In a well-plotted tale, the author makes Mike a very human and conflicted protagonist, about whom the reader comes to feel great empathy. I loved the writing, e.g., "I'd never believed that our destinies are predetermined. If you look back on your life, you might see what looks like a meaningful progression, but it's no different from gazing at the moon and seeing a man's face. Just because you perceive a pattern doesn't mean it's really there." The novel is highly recommended.

Death at the Black Bull
Frank Hayes
Berkley Prime Crime
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780425274293, $15.00, Paperback, 312 pp,

In this debut novel from Frank Hayes, we are introduced to Virgil Dalton, past forty and a life-long resident of the Southwestern town of Hayward, where he has been sheriff for over a dozen years. The run-of-the-mill crimes with which Virgil and his mentee and deputy, Jimmy, usually have to handle bear no relation to Virgil's discovery of the body of a dead man, also a long-time resident and known and well-liked by all (or nearly all, it would appear). The man had not been seen since his usual night drinking at the Black Bull, a local drinking establishment/roadhouse frequented by most of the residents, Virgil included.

Hayward, the county seat, has a small population and one traffic light to brag about, and as with many such towns near the Mexican border, harbors a common prejudice against those born in Mexico, in the US illegally or deemed "half-breeds" among their less enlightened neighbors. Virgil himself is a half-breed, although indigenous and with a good education, including a law degree.

The murder does not appear to Virgil to have been a random act, and Virgil becomes more and more convinced there is much more to it than a single lethal act, and determines to try to get to the bottom of what motivated the crime. "For him, this investigation had suddenly turned into more than he had expected, more than just a killing in a small town."

The writing is beautiful, e.g., the night when the dead man's body is found is, for Virgil, an evening when "the earth held its breath in expectation," and he has "an innate sense of premonition. When he had ignored such thoughts, or passed them off as coincidence, they had always come back to haunt him, so he had learned to live with them. Never confortably. Always reluctantly." He looks up at "a night sky that couldn't hold another star. . . He breathed deep the smells of the ranch . . . the mixed perfume was more than green grass, cut hay, and manure. It was home." The author can take his place in the landscape of the Far West staked out by Tony Hillerman and, more recently, his daughter, Anne Hillerman, as well as Craig Johnson.

"Death at the Black Bull is a very satisfying read, and is recommended.

A Dog Gone Murder
Elaine Viets
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780451465986, $7.99, Paperback, 271 pp,

This newest book in the series featuring Josie Marcus, Mystery Shopper extraordinaire, now 34 years old and mother of 12-year-old Amelia, has her mystery-shopping three St. Louis-area dog day care centers, the results of which will help decide which of them does and does not acquire a critical accreditation with a Certified Pet Care Center seal. The first of these is Uncle Bob's Doggy Day Camp, whose owner personally promotes the establishment with ubiquitous TV commercials. It soon appears, however, that Bob's love for the animals under his care is only minimally greater than the dislike his employees have for him.

Josie, who was a single mother, is about to celebrate the first anniversary of her marriage to Dr. Ted Scottsmeyer, a veterinarian and co-owner of the St. Louis Mobo-Pet Clinic. She is deeply in love with him, and very happy, the only problems in her life at present being the normal ones for mothers of tween girls. Amelia attends, on scholarship, the exclusive Barrington School, and is in the throes of planning to attend her first 'grown-up' party, with all its attendant problems. The combined pets in the household include Stuart Little, Josie's mother Jane's shih tzu, Josie's cat Harry, and Ted's cat Marmalade and his black Labrador, Festus. The reader feels intimately familiar with each of them at this point in the series.

Before marrying Ted, Josie had lived for eleven years in the downstairs apartment in her mother's house, where one Frank Hyzy is presently living and, her mother insists, is "only a renter," Josie's suspicions that there is more to the relationship to the contrary. Frank has only recently been employed at the aforementioned Uncle Bob's Doggy Day Camp, and on the day Josie goes there to begin her mystery-shopper duties, Frank has quit his job there. On the very same day, Josie goes into the owner's office to interview him, only to find him unconscious on the floor. The police, in their inimitable way, suspect Frank of having poisoned him. Not for the first time in the series, Josie determines to find the real culprit when "Uncle Bob" dies. Josie, and by extension Amelia, Dr. Ted and Jane, are protagonists to whom readers can relate. The author has given us another interesting murder mystery with several possible culprits; the book makes for a perfect beach read, and is recommended.

The Final Silence
Stuart Neville
Soho Crime
853 Broadway, NY, NY 1003
9781616955489, $26.95, Hardcover, 340 pp.,

Stuart Neville's fourth and newest book to take place in Belfast, Northern Ireland, seldom lets the reader forget the history of that place, after the time of "the Troubles" and its history of paramilitary groups that proliferated at that time. Its opening pages describe the last hours, hinted at by the title, of Raymond Drew as he leaves the three-bedroom semi where he'd lived for the past 30 years, the first two of which were shared with "a wife he'd barely known, let alone loved. Dead and buried now, and he hadn't missed her for a moment." He walks along the edge of the river, where a woman and a dog walk past him, the latter "smelling the death on him. His and that of the others."

Upon Raymond's death, that house now becomes the property of his niece, 34-year-old Rea Carlisle, daughter of influential Stormont politician Graham Carlisle. As she and her mother start to clear the house of the dead man's remaining possessions, she finds an upstairs room inexplicably locked; she finds a crowbar and forces the door open, whereupon she discovers a leather-bound book lying on a table, the room's only furniture, and finds, to her horror (akin to that felt by the reader), pages filled with writings describing kidnappings, murders, and similar atrocities. Was her uncle the author of these pages? And for whom were these scenes catalogued, who the intended reader (for surely that is not Rea)?

The opening chapters alternate p.o.v. from Rea and that of disgraced police inspector Jack Lennon, her former lover now under suspension from the force, in denial of the PTSD from which he suffers since the events of a year ago. Lennon had been shot three times, killing his attacker (a policeman himself) and helping a murder suspect flee the country in the process, now seeking a medical pension (he lost his spleen and still is in severe and constant pain), so far to no avail. Lennon becomes a lead suspect in a murder investigation led by DCI Serena Flannagan, with 20 years on the force and going through her own personal travails, and things only become more complicated.

Each of these characters: Lennon, Rea and her mother, Ida, and Flannagan, is dealing with his or her own large personal issues, and the reader feels great empathy for each of them. The plot is ingenious, the pages fly, the ending unexpected. The writing is wonderful, and the book is highly recommended.

A Billion Ways to Die
Chris Knopf
The Permanent Press
4170 Noyac Rd., Sag Harbor NY 11963
9781579623630, $29.00, Hardcover, 271 pp,

As the novel opens, Arthur Cathcart and his partner and lover, Natsumi Fitzgerald are ensconced on their 36' boat in Caribbean waters. They are indisputably unique protagonists: He, bald and in his forties, holds a Masters in Applied Mathematics, doing freelance market research; she, a tiny woman who is a former blackjack dealer, is almost equally adept as he in her hacking abilities and knowledge of clandestine technology. Together they have used dozens of different IDs, aliases, and stolen identities, with the necessary passports, drivers' licenses, bank accounts, etc. for each. But these somehow do not prevent mercenaries from finding them, capturing and interrogating them, somehow allowing them to live before disappearing. The rest of the novel turns on discovering the identity and motives of these people.

The multi-award-winning author has written ten previous mysteries, including two other series and one standalone. In the first book in this series, Arthur and his wife were both shot in the head by a man who was a complete stranger to them. His wife is killed instantly; Arthur is left for dead and remains in a coma until, against all odds, he recovers, but as far as the rest of the world is concerned, he has succumbed to his severe injuries and died. ("The bullet went straight through, skimmed the frontal and took out a piece of the parietal and somatosensory cortex.") After meeting Natsumi, he manages to slip into "a shadow world" of his own making, "in exile but comfortably so." The title derives from Arthur being told "You need to figure a way out of this . . . It's no way to live." Arthur: "I hoped there was a way to live . . . because there sure seemed to be plenty of ways to die." And the number "a billion" comes into that equation, quite literally.

Arthur is a brilliant man living with "the curse of the analytic mind" and well aware of "the benefits of paranoia in the pursuit of personal security. . . Our ability to slip unnoticed through the world was well served by the bored and resentful." One need only look at the headlines on any given day to see the proliferation of security breaches, on an international basis.

The cast is varied, from FBI agents to Bosnian gangsters and everything in between. The reader is kept intrigued, to say the least, especially to those of us not of the "nerd" persuasion. This is the third in the series, after "Dead Anyway" and "Cries of the Lost." It is thoroughly entertaining and every bit as good as the ones that preceded it and, like those, is highly recommended.

It is amazing that this novel, written a few years ago, could portray so convincingly what has become "the new normal" in today's world. He is told "people like you - - and me - - we're not citizens anymore. We're the enemy. And it's only gonna get worse because the more ex-soldiers go into the police, the more regular cops think they are soldiers," and that they were "privileged white men who had never been treated the way millions of less fortunate Americas were treated all the time. Academia made our lives even more remote from reality. It was just a shock being manhandled and brutalized; it was as if we had been radically ripped from our lives and dumped into an alternative reality." They are at a total loss to identity the perpetrator/instigator of these acts.

Lev Raphael is the author of 24 books. His non-fiction works include "My Germany," which I must admit is the only book by Mr. Raphael outside of the Nick Hoffman series (in which this is the 8th entry) which I have read, and which was equally wonderful. The book is highly recommended.

Gloria Feit

Gorden's Bookshelf

The Seal
Adriana Koulias
Zuriel Press Pty Ltd
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
ISBN: 9780987462077
B00AQ4UG3G, $2.99 Kindle, 453 pages,

The Seal is a massive story about the last days of the Templars. It has many story threads that cover decades of history. Many history readers will love the tale. I have two problems with the story. The story has too many character lines making it feel fragmented and Adriana has added in a very strong paranormal thread to the basically history tale. To blend a strong history with paranormal it takes a deft hand to blend the two. One needs to be the major story thread while the second needs to be a subordinate role to add spice to the tale. The Seal uses both the paranormal and historical in equal balance which forces both to fight for the attention of the reader.

The most consistent character in the tale is Etienne de Congost, a Templar knight. Etienne has seen too much war and he carries the weight of the battles through the story. He is assigned a task of hiding the real secret of the Templars from the French King and the Pope. His scared and damaged soul suffers through to the end on this task.

The Seal is a solid history tale. The major part of the Templar's end isn't covered. Only a few of the Templar leaders were killed while tens of thousands survived and left the public pages of history. Those tens of thousands are missing from the story. The tale looks at the destruction of the Templars through the eyes of the handful key leaders from both the Templar and its enemy's side. The paranormal aspects of the tale don't seem to fit with the strong fictionalized history. The total story is just above average. It is a nice read for those interested in the depressing end of the Templars. For those less interested in Templar history there are other history books with a less depressing story and a smoother storyline.

The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors
James D. Hornfischer
Bantam Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780553802573, $1.99 Kindle, 499 pages,

The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors is a great story about the World War II battle of Leyte Gulf in the Philippines. Most histories either minimize the destroyer actions near the Island of Samar or ignore it completely. Hornfischer takes a detailed look at the battle and gives deep background information about many of the sailors involved. As with all battles there are elements of luck mixed with skill. Samar and Leyte has an amazing series of obvious luck. So much that many historians have ignored the skills of the men involved.

World War II has gone badly for Japan. Their navy is nearly destroyed so they decide they have only one chance to blunt the American advances and they throw all of the ships into one last attempt to delay the American advance. When MacArthur invades the Philippines at Leyte, they see their chance. They send out three fleets of ships. One fleet from the North is sent to draw the strongest ships away from Leyte while two battleship groups swing around the islands from the west. The southern group runs head on into the US battleships protecting the landings at Leyte and gets torn apart. The central battleship group gets mauled by Halsey's carrier planes but then Halsey gets distracted and leaves the battle to attack the northern distracting force. This leaves just a handful of destroyers, destroyer escorts and small jeep carriers to defend the approach to the troops and landing zone.

Lines of Japanese cruisers, battleships and destroyers attack this remaining handful of ships. Here the battle gets down to luck and skill. At this time the weapons and aiming technology of the US ships are superior to the Japanese and these few ships charge the Japanese fleet and fight them to a standstill. The planes from the jeep carriers put the Japanese fleet under continual attack. The Japanese ships turn back just before completely destroying this small fleet.

The casualties on both sides are enormous and the few US destroyers exchanged fire with ships many times their size and numbers and fight them to a stalemate.

The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors is a must read for any historian. It is heavily referenced and the storyline reads closer to fiction than history. It is one of the best WWII books with its combination of a great story and very good writing.

S.A. Gorden, Reviewer

Julie's Bookshelf

Planes, Canes, and Automobiles
Valerie M. Grubb
Greenleaf Book Group Press
PO Box 91869, Austin, TX 78709
c/o Smith Publicity
9781626342163, $16.95,

Synopsis: "Planes, Canes, and Automobiles: Connecting with Your Aging Parents through Travel" is a gold mine of practical advice, funny anecdotes, and tales of triumphs and travails from Val Grubb, who has traveled more than 300,000 miles (and counting!) with her 84-year old mother over the past twenty years. When planning a recent trip overseas, however, Grubb realized that her mom's physical and mental capabilities had suddenly changed. Her mom now needed a wheelchair, for example, and was afraid to travel alone (even on short flights to meet her daughter for a long trip together). Grubb set out to find suggestions for handling these changes and after much research was struck by the lack of resources to help people plan vacations with an aging friend or family member. She couldn't find any comprehensive information that shed light on the nuances of globetrotting with aging parents.

Critique: An inherently fascinating read that is as informed as it is informative. Deftly written and thoroughly 'reader friendly', "Planes, Canes, and Automobiles: Connecting with Your Aging Parents through Travel" is very highly recommended for community library collections and for the personal reading lists of anyone charged with the responsibility of assisting an elderly family member or friend deal with air flight transportation.

Celtic Mythology
Ward Rutherford
Weiser Books
c/o Red Wheel/Weiser/Conari
65 Parker Street, Suite 7, Newburyport, MA 01950
9781578635863, $14.95, 160pp,

Synopsis: "Celtic Mythology: The Nature and Influence of Celtic Myth from Druidism to Arthurian Legend" by Ward Rutherford is a lively and absorbing account of the world of Celtic myth and the role it has played in the development of western culture. Included here are: The world of the Celts, including an historical overview from their emergence as an identifiable people around 1000 B.C. Also included is an exploration of their social structure; The contents of Celtic myths and the differences and similarities between their manifestation in Britain and Ireland; The topography of the supernatural world of Celtic myth, including discussion of Druidism, Shamanism, and the meaning of Celtic myths; The influence of Celtic myth in English literature from Arthurian legend to the Grail legends. "Celtic Mythology: The Nature and Influence of Celtic Myth from Druidism to Arthurian Legend" is a highly literate, lively, and absorbing exploration of one of the jewels of European cultural heritage demonstrates how deeply Celtic mythology has become embedded in Western consciousness.

Critique: Impressively succinct, informed and informative, "Celtic Mythology: The Nature and Influence of Celtic Myth from Druidism to Arthurian Legend" is very instructive and highly recommended reading for students of Metaphysical Studies, as well as the non-specialist general reader with an interest in Celtic history, mythology, spirituality, and culture. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Celtic Mythology: The Nature and Influence of Celtic Myth from Druidism to Arthurian Legend" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

The Prepper's Water Survival Guide
Daisy Luther
Ulysses Press
PO Box 3440, Berkeley CA 94703-3440
9781612434483, $14.95, 224pp,

Synopsis: You can survive up to three weeks without food, but only three days without water! When catastrophe strikes, having enough water can spell the difference between life and death. "The Prepper's Water Survival Guide" offers a step-by-step plan with straightforward information you can easily follow. With "The Prepper's Water Survival Guide", readers will quickly learn how to: Store fresh water; Collect rainwater; Purify water from lakes and rivers; Dig a well for groundwater. In addition to harvesting water, "The Prepper's Water Survival Guide" provides the tools to keep large stores untainted for long periods of time, and will enable readers to test the water they collect for dangerous toxins, and treat water-related illnesses that are commonly contracted during a disaster.

Critique: Even without the ever presented threat of unanticipated disaster rending local municipal water sources inoperable or unavailable, chronic drought conditions in some parts of the country, and chronic flooding in regions, make "The Prepper's Water Survival Guide" an invaluable and practical instructional reference, making it a critically important addition to personal and community library collections. It should be noted that "The Prepper's Water Survival Guide" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Llewellyn's Complete Dictionary Of Dreams
Michael Lennox
Llewellyn Worldwide, LTD.
2143 Wooddale Drive, Woodbury, MN 55125
9780738741468, $24.99, 312pp,

Synopsis: Dreams have an intelligence and purpose of their own, allowing your soul to reveal itself. By listening to the wisdom of your dreams, you can increase the satisfaction and success you experience in your waking life, make positive changes for a better future, and find a profound connection to your Higher Self. "Llewellyn's Complete Dictionary of Dreams" presents more than 1,000 cross-referenced dream symbols and their universal meanings to assist you in analyzing your unconscious mind. Students of metaphysical studies can follow along as psychologist Michael Lennox as he explores the basics of interpretation and shows you how to integrate the subtle messages that arise while you sleep. The insights related to the specific symbols in this extensive guide are the keys to creativity, growth, and understanding.

Critique: Informative, comprehensive, authoritative, and thoroughly 'user friendly', "Llewellyn's Complete Dictionary Of Dreams" offers a wealth of insights into dream interpretation and is an especially recommended addition to personal, community, and academic library Metaphysical Studies reference collections. It should be noted that "Llewellyn's Complete Dictionary Of Dreams" is also available in a Kindle edition ($13.99).

The Jesus Dialogues
Brennan R. Hill
Resource Publications, Inc.
5369 Camden Avenue #260, San Jose, CA 95124
Bob Todd Publicity
9781498219105, $26.00, 228pp,

Synopsis: In "The Jesus Dialogues: Jesus Speaks with Religious Founders and Leaders", author Brennan R. Hill uses a dialogue method to contrast and compare an extensive number of religions. In each chapter, Jesus sits down with both women and men religious founders and leaders and talks with them on an equal basis about religious perspectives, past and present. "The Jesus Dialogues" is a thorough overview of Christianity, compared and contrasted with eight other religions as well as selected indigenous religions. A final chapter deals with the "why" and "how" of interfaith dialogue, which is so needed in today's diverse and global society. "The Jesus Dialogues" reflects the author's six decades of study and teaching in the areas of Christianity and world religions. It is based on sound scholarship, worldwide travel, and experience in interfaith dialogue. "The Jesus Dialogues" demonstrates that there is truth and a way to ultimacy in all religions. At the same time, listening in on these conversations reveals significant differences among religions. These dialogues help one realize that Gandhi was right when he said that we must listen to all religions in order to obtain just a glimpse of the divine.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized, and presented, "The Jesus Dialogues" offers a uniquely informed and informative approach to religious values that is as thoughtful and thought-provoking as it is inspired and inspired. Very highly recommended for church, seminary, community, and academic library Religion/Spirituality and Christian Studies reference collections and supplemental studies lists, it should be noted that for personal reading lists "The Jesus Dialogues" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Prevention is the Cure!
Frederick D. Sancilio
Morgan James Publishing
4410 E Claiborne Square, Suite 334, Hampton VA 23666-2071
Full Scale Media
9781630474263, $35.95, 270pp,

Synopsis: An amazing discussion from a scientist on the nature of health, sickness, and what we all can do to remain vibrant as we grow older, "Prevention is the Cure!" will take you through the root causes of most diseases and guide you in ways that can save your life and the lives of others. Discover the four primary causes of illnesses and how to avoid them. Learn the ten commandments of longevity, the secret habits of centenarians, and, most important, learn how you can remain youthful well into your eighties and nineties! As a successful scientist, businessman, and community leader, Dr. Fred Sancilio shares his thoughts on the tragic demise of his own father, the tipping point to his quest to find the truth about why some people always seem to be sick, while others are perpetually healthy. Learn how scientists study the differences between eating habits of various populations and the connection between the incredible health of the Intuits of Greenland and a diet that could well benefit mankind forever. Prevention is the Cure! will become your guidebook to a long and healthy life. It will lay the groundwork for a robust and active future.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, impressively organized and presented, "Prevention is the Cure!: A Scientist's Guide to Extending Your Life" is as informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. Especially appropriate for the non-specialist reader with an interest in health, nutrition, and living a long and productive lifetime, "Prevention is the Cure!" will prove an enduringly popular addition to community Health & Medicine collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Prevention is the Cure!" is also available in a paperback edition (9781630474256, $19.95) and in a Kindle format ($9.99).

Killing Maine
Mike Bond
Mandevilla Press
Meryl L. Moss Media Relations
9781627040303, $14.99; 368 pages,

Synopsis: Surfer and Special Forces vet Pono Hawkins quits sunny Hawaii for Maine's brutal winter to help former SF buddy Bucky Franklin beat a murder rap. The same Bucky who once sent Pono to military prison then married his girlfriend Lexie. But in Special Forces you never leave a buddy behind no matter what they've done. Especially if they once saved your life. An unknown sniper has shot environmental exec Ronnie Dalt, and the police say it was Bucky. So Pono finds himself hooked up with Bucky's wife Lexie trying to find Bucky an alibi. And meets an old flame, the fierce and beautiful attorney Erica, and then the dead man's wife Abigail, who has never met a man she couldn't devour alive. Unknown killers stalk Pono as he tries to unravel Ronnie's death. Nothing is certain, no one can be trusted, no place is safe. There's a million square miles of wildlands out there to hide a man's body. And with a rap sheet that includes two jail sentences, Pono is the number one target of every cop in the state. Sadly Maine turns out to be as politically corrupt as Hawaii, with huge energy corporations gobbling up the state's beautiful mountains and purchasing its politicians at bargain prices. Once again Pono finds himself hunted, shot at, betrayed, stalked by knife-wielding assassins, and in love with three women.

Critique: Although a work of compelling fiction, "Killing Maine" draws from an insider's view of crooked Maine politics, the state's magical and fast-disappearing natural beauty -- based on the author's own life experiences. Very highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library General Fiction collections.

A New Hope
Robyn Carr
Mira Books
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
Little Bird Publicity
9780778317364, $24.95, 288pp,

Synopsis: After losing her child, Ginger Dysart was lost in grief. But since moving to Thunder Point, a small town on the Oregon coast, and with the help of her cousin Ray Anne, Ginger is finally moving forward. Her job at the flower shop is peaceful and fulfilling, and she's excited to start her first big assignment, assisting with the Lacoumette wedding. In spite of her lasting heartache, Ginger finds herself swept up in the pleasure of the occasion. But the beauty of the Lacoumette farm and the joy of the gregarious family are ruined by an unfortunate encounter with the bride's brother, Matt. Struggling with painful memories of his own recent divorce, Matt makes a drunken spectacle of himself and Ginger when he tries to make a pass at her, forcing Ginger to flee the scene in embarrassment. But when Matt shows up at the flower shop determined to make amends, what started out as a humiliating first meeting blossoms into something much deeper than either of them expected. Discovering they have a lot in common, they form a solid friendship, though everyone around them worries that Ginger will end up with a broken heart yet again. But if Ginger has the courage to embrace the future, and if Matt can finally learn to let go of the past, there may still be hope for a happy ending.

Critique: Another terrifically entertaining novel by Robyn Carr. A deftly crafted story that holds the reader's rapt attention from beginning to end, "A New Hope" is very highly recommended for community library General Romance collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "A New Hope" is also available in a paperback edition (9780778317876, $8.99) and in a Kindle format ($6.99).

Film and Video Budgets 6
Maureen Ryan
Publicity Department
Michael Wiese Productions
12400 Ventura Blvd., #1111, Studio City, CA 91604
9781615932214, $29.95, 470pp,

Synopsis: "Film and Video Budgets 6" is the latest edition of an instruction manual and guide that has sold over 75,000 copies since its first printing in 1984 by producer/publisher Michael Wiese. An indispensable tool for any producer and considered by professionals to be a kind of "industry bible", "Film and Video Budgets 6" has been fully updated with the latest digital technologies for production and post-production which serve as the standard for most films today. Downloadable budget templates are free and easily accessible at They can be adapted for any production and can save you tons of time and money. The templates include different budget levels for narrative features, non-fiction features, and short films. "Film and Video Budgets 6" goes through a 14-page Master Budget template line-by-line with an explanation for every line item in any budget. As it guides you through each step, you can use this book to put together budgets for proposals, treatments, and productions.

Critique: Among her various credentials and credits, Maureen Ryan is the co-producer of the Academy Award-winning film "Man on Wire" and brings here many years of experience and expertise to bear in her newly updated and expanded edition of "Film and Video Budgets 6" Clear, concise, comprehensive, and thoroughly 'user friendly' in composition, organization, and presentation, "Film and Video Budgets 6" should be a core addition to personal, professional, academic, and community library Film/Viedo Production reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted that "Film and Video Budgets 6" is also available in a Kindle edition ($21.08).

Therese of Lisieux
Sr. Susan Helen Wallace, FSP
Pauline Books & Media
50 St. Paul's Avenue, Boston, MA 02130-3433
9780819875136, $10.95, 160pp,

Synopsis: Therese of Lisieux lived on this earth but a short time; she was only twenty-four years old when she died. She never directly ministered to those who had abandoned all belief in God. She never worked in foreign missions to spread the faith. She simply joined the cloister of Carmel at the age of fifteen, lived as a prayerful Carmelite, and died of tuberculosis nine years later. Her life and simplicity, however, has inspired people of many nations and creeds, opening to them a pathway of hope and of union with God. Therese's life testifies that holiness doesn't require harrowing deeds or huge sacrifices. One does not need to be a missionary, a person of great achievements, or a prominent theologian. Rather, the little "yesses" of everyday life, when done with a trusting heart eager to please the Lord, are a sure path toward holiness. Saint Therese's "little way" shows us how to go to God with love and confidence, no matter what our vocation. In her daily surrender to all that Providence placed before her, Therese of Lisieux lived out the divine plan. Walk along with one of the most beloved saints in history and see how her "little way" will help you draw closer to God.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Therese of Lisieux" is as informed and informative as it is inspired and inspiring. A valued addition to the growing library of Roman Catholic literature, "Therese of Lisieux" is very highly recommended for personal, church, and community library Christian Studies and Christian Biography reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Julie Summers

Karyn's Bookshelf

Frances Dean Who Loved to Dance and Dance
Birgitta Sif, author and illustrator
Candlewick Press
99 Dover St., Somerville, MA 02144
9780763673062, $15.99,

Stirred by the sound and feel of nature, a little girl finds the courage to share her love of movement with others, in this sweet, and thoughtful, ode to the creative spirit. Frances Dean loves to twirl and tap - in private. When others are around, shyness stops her in her tracks.

Then one day, a flock of birds "who always loved her dancing" lead her to another girl, who is unabashedly singing in public. The site inspires Frances Dean to "let the wind move her" to not only dance in public, but to draw other people into her performance, with joyful results. Sif's digitally-colored pencil illustrations are simple and uncluttered yet full of interesting details, with lots of birds and small animals, but also a variety of people on the street doing everything from walking dogs to burping babies. (And none of their eyes, incidentally, are on Frances Dean, although she thinks they all are watching her intently.)

The heroine's quirky, skinny stone house; natural park scenes; and the jubilant ending, particularly come to life in the illustrations.

A beautiful reminder that the arts are meant to be shared - and that often an artists' greatest accomplishment is becoming vulnerable, putting themselves out there.

For anyone who's ever had a private passion, and reached beyond themselves to pass it on.

The Backwards Birthday Party
Tom Chapin and John Forster, authors
Chuck Groenink, illustrator
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
c/o Simon & Schuster's Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781442467989, $17.99,

A rollicking, decades-old children's song about a birthday when clocks run backward, and lots of things go askew, gets new life in this delightful picture book. Groenink's tousle-haired hero wakes up to find his birthday guests saying "good-bye" while walking in the door. They eat cake first, the birthday boy gives guests presents, and when the clock finally winds its way back to the start of the day, the hero is one year younger. Young readers, and lap listeners, will delight in the array of child-friendly animals, backwards writing at various points throughout the book, the party's energy and rhythm, and the party games and activities that are all a little off kilter. The sleepy ending also makes for a great bedtime book. Jubilant, wacky fun.

Karyn L. Saemann, Reviewer

Kevin's Bookshelf

Captain Hawk (Hawk's Legacy Series Book 1)
SJ Garland
Maple Kakapo Limited
9780473319236, $13.00,

Sail, not drift - A review of the novel 'Captain Hawk'

"I can't control the wind but I can adjust the sail." - Ricky Skaggs

Author SJ Garland's novel 'Captain Hawk' chronicles the lives of British and Dutch expats in Singapore at the pinnacle of the East India Company's reign. It's set in the early 1800's and we follow the adventures of Nathaniel Hawk, an able and highly trained seaman who would rather seek glory and adventures on land than out on the sea. But after a series of nefarious mishaps threaten the peaceful existence of the shipping business, Nathaniel finds himself at the centre of it all especially after a great tragedy strikes close to home. This is the story of a man who must desperately find answers to secrets surrounding his life, not only to find closure but also to secure his future.

Nathaniel is the quintessential reluctant hero who would rather follow a different life path from the one he's preordained to follow. But a series of events doesn't allow him this luxury and he finds himself having to take on great responsibilities in the midst of ruins everywhere. Nathaniel's growth graph has been brilliantly charted by the author, he's not presented as a finished hero product, and neither does he become one by the end. But the growth in his character, his own realization of his purpose in life makes for a highly interesting lead character. This change in him can be seen throughout the book as we see the changing dynamics of his relationship with other important characters. Nathaniel as a literary character has plenty going for him and is someone you can spin plenty of adventure stories around.

The book uses both Nathaniel and Charlotte to cleverly narrate this story. In the Nathaniel narrative you get to peek inside the mind of the lead character and become privy to all the action and adventure from a first person's objective. While from the Charlotte's point of view, we not only get to see the important role her character plays but are also introduced to a host of secondary characters and sub-plots that help in establishing an identity for the place and era in which the story is set in. This helps the reader feel more connected with these characters and could prove beneficial when the sequel comes out.

The writing is very precise and at the same time is highly descriptive too, giving all the scenes a visual comprehension. Various themes like identity crisis, the complexity and uniqueness of father-son relationships, family honor, etc find flavor in the author's writing. Being a historical fiction, this book introduces to you a different side of Singapore and history really does come alive in this melting pot of different cultures and personalities. The realism employed by the author often makes you forget the fact that you are reading a fictional book.

It's a great start to a brand new series by a talented author!

A Twist of Fortune (Sgt Windflower)
Mike Martin, Inc.
5726 Cortez Rd W, #349,. Bradenton, FL 34210
9781634903806, $20.00,

The Silent Hero - A review of the novel 'A Twist of Fortune'

"The trick to being smart is knowing when to play dumb." - V. Alexander

Author Mike Martin's novel 'A Twist of Fortune' tells the tale of Sergeant Winston Windflower of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. A small fishing community called Grand Bank in Newfoundland, Canada reels under the effects of globalization as their local fishing industry is systematically taken apart. But this tight-knit community is rocked even further by the discovery of a couple of dead bodies in a car during a snow storm. And Sgt. Windflower and his efficient team of police force must not only solve the case but deal with a nasty snow storm threatening to double their workload.

Even though this is the fourth book in the series, the narrative never lets you feel like you've jumped midway into the timeline of someone's life story. It patiently goes about setting the background for the town and its characters and you quickly get accustomed to its pace and setting. Another thing that I personally liked was that all the characters in this novel have proper sounding names and along with their personalities, seem like folks you would meet in the real world. The nitty-gritty of police work, the unglamorous side that often goes unnoticed in fiction is really explored here. Does this make the narrative a little slow? Sure, but it also makes the story that more believable.

There are a lot of minor action points that moves the story forward. The description of the cold & gloomy snowy weather incites the reader that something sinister is going to happen soon and you keep flipping the pages forward in anticipation. There are also definite overtones of social activism within the book and subtle commentary on environmental neglect and destruction of local industries as capitalism spreads unchecked.

Sgt. Windflower is unlike any cop or detective that appears in fictional novels. He isn't a wild card who goes after criminals like a rampaging bull, he isn't even a reluctant hero who finally steps up and does something heroic. He is the face, body and soul of countless policemen from all around the world that quietly goes about doing their job, solving crimes and putting bad people behind bars. There's nothing flashy about him, he's the quiet hero who loves taking plenty of naps, enjoying a good cup of coffee and the best of exotic cuisine. But he's also extremely disciplined and gets the job done by working extremely hard at it. Even the secondary characters like Tizzard, Sheila, Evanchuck and MacDonald make an impression with their non-stereotypical portrayal and unique personalities.

The snow clad setting, the leisurely pace of the narrative and a no-nonsense but humane lead makes A Twist of Fortune a mystery thriller with a difference. It's a book that requires and rewards your patience.

The Demons Walk Among Us
Joann Harris
Sarah Book Publishing
2216 Camelot Plaza Cir Harlingen TX, 78550
9781614560609, $13.95,

The Final Reckoning - A review of the novel 'The Demons Walk Among Us'

"But the Dark cannot claim what Light does not surrender." - C.L. Wilson

In author Joann Harris's novel 'The Demons Walk Among Us', the devil makes his appearance in a quaint little American town. Sam, a brilliant, honorable, and courageous hero along with his wife Nydia, a powerful witch and little Sam, their 4 year old son with paranormal powers have been travelling all over the country defeating the devil and his various minions. They land up in Becancour, a town undergoing drastic changes in preparation for Satan's coming. To defeat this powerful enemy Sam and his family have to team up with the local authorities and a few remaining good souls. And these allies bound to him by blood and honor will come in handy when he goes one up against the lord of evil himself.

Armed with only a simple single sentence plot line, this book tries to ascend mighty standards of success and almost pulls off the impossible. For a book with a host of secondary characters and a tight knit group of primary ones, the character development is spot on and believable. The small family of Sam, his wife, little son and the Dog are very likeable and as a reader you will be compelled to emotionally invest in this family. Their courage, determination, love for each other and the swagger and attitude of having seen and done it all before is infectious. The book also has a wonderful cast of secondary characters like the police chief, the deputy and the doctor who have to first face up to a threat they cannot fully comprehend and then team up with an outsider to save the townspeople.

As far as the story line is concerned, there's a lot of unpredictability to it, you never know who's going to fall victim to the unrelenting evil that's sweeping through the town. There are a lot of hair-raising scenes as the people of Becancour turn on each other and commit unspeakable acts of evil. And these are juxtaposed against the strong beliefs and good natured behavior of another set of individuals. It's one of those books you won't need to use a bookmark on, as you will keep turning the pages to see what happens next because almost all the chapters end on a cliffhanger note.

The scene in the convenience store deserves a special mention, intended perhaps as to lighten up the mood or perhaps to open up the 'fourth wall' for readers and let them know that it's just a fictional book, whatever may have been its true intention, this scene does stand out.

The story does contain graphic violence & gore, profanity and some sexual content. Therefore the sensitive, conservative and squeamish reader should definitely stay away from this. But fans of this sub-genre of horror and slasher books are going to have a whale of a time reading with wicked glory the exploits of the author's vivid imagination.

A Twist of Fortune (Sgt Windflower)
Ronald M. James
Big Sky Press
9781512211665, $15.00

Undercover Style - A review of the novel 'Too Beautiful For Words'

"In Greek tragedy, they fall from great heights. In noir, they fall from the curb." - Dennis Lehane

Sammy Shovel, the super PI once again makes his appearance in author Ronald M. James's latest novel 'Too Beautiful For Words.' When the CEO of a big corporation with a squeaky clean image gets murdered, the local police department gets stumped when they aren't able to decipher a set of clues left behind by the victim. That's when Samuel aka Sammy comes into the picture as the hired PI of the corporation trying to find out their boss's murderer. He quickly delves into the case and unearths some explosive and controversial information. But it also makes him the target of bad guys and he has to depend on his super sleuthing skills and gun slinging ways to find a way out of the latest muddle he has found himself in.

The narrative in this detective story is a mix of classic whodunit style and character driven plotting. The PI Sammy Shovel isn't an all brawn; let's shoot 'em up kind of a guy and the storyline also reflects this attitude. Although there are enough action points that move the story forward there's also this leisurely descriptive style to the narrative. Even in the midst of constant suspense, the story ensures that you get an adequate feel of the character's surroundings and their thinking.

Since it's set in 1993, we also get to see the police and PI conduct investigations by asking around and interrogating people as opposed to sitting in front of a computer and getting all the information. And even though there are a lot of fistfights and shootings, the violence is never overdone and the foul language too has been kept to a minimum. And full credits to the author for maintaining the mystery in the story till the very end.

Sammy dresses like a vagrant and it's a recurring comic relief when prospective clients think he's in disguise. But it also reflects the man's attitude towards life; sure he doesn't know how to take care of himself but more importantly he really doesn't care what the world thinks about his life choices. Even so, sometimes we get to see an introspective side to the man when he ponders, if he dressed better, maintained a tidier office and learned to talk to people nicely, if he would then become a bigger success? Other characters like the police Lieutenant Braque provides the necessary ally cum discipliner role contrasting nicely with Sammy's laidback approach to everything.

James does a great job with plot construction, filling it with enough twists and turns to keep you interested as you follow the experienced PI feel his way through the case. It has all the makings of a good mystery series and is worth following through.

Hypatia's Feud
Nicholas Fourikis
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432766252, $19.95,

Beings of Gaea - A review of the book 'Hypatia's Feud'

"She was free in her wildness. She was a wanderess, a drop of free water. She belonged to no man and to no city" - Roman Payne

Author Nicholas Fourikis's book 'Hypatia's Feud' is a historical and fictional take on the life and times of Hypatia of Alexandria. Hypatia succeeded Plato's school of philosophy but she was more than just a philosopher. Her interests and expertise were in topics as varied as physics, biology, linguistics, astronomy, mathematics, history and much more. Between the 4th and 5th century CE, she led a key enlightenment movement at a time when the major religions treated women as inferior creatures and attributed the reason behind everything to the will of God.

There's an infinite beauty in the author's prose. The sights, sounds and smell of Alexandria come alive in his passages. And just like Hypatia was supposed to have been, the author takes on the most complex of ideas and thoughts and breaks them down and explains them in everyday language. The past really does come alive in the author's detailed and descriptive writing. The way each character walks, dresses and thinks has been recorded in such a realistic manner. It's almost like the author followed these people around with a video camera and recorded everything with the keen eye of a sensitive and gifted artist.

There's great tragedy and heartbreak intermixed with such strong emotions of love that you will be hard-pressed not to get emotionally affected by the narrative. Itwill make you question everything, including Hypatia's and Aristos's actions and thoughts. And this is perhaps the message the book wants to send out as well, it doesn't want you to blindly accept anyone or anything without questioning it with a rational mind.

The words in this book may impress you but the visual imagery these words generate will stay with you for a long time. There are plenty of passages you will highlight to get back to for their ingenuity and thought provoking nature. You will also be entertained by the numerous legends, myths and stories about Alexandria's rich history. And under Fourikis's emotive writing, Hypatia's awe-inspiring and thought provoking speeches truly come alive.

It's narrated for the most part by Aristos, who is introduced as a young man in awe of Hypatia's teachings and quickly goes on to become one of her most promising and gifted students. Aristos as a character grows up emotionally and rationally throughout the book and his responses at crucial junctures often reflect the reader's mind at that point in the book. And perhaps like Aristos, you too will require time to re-evaluate what you have known so far before accepting newer thoughts and beliefs. A character like Posidonius the Magian plays a relevant and significant role in the narrative, often reflecting the collective conscience of rational and wise thinkers.

Hypatia was truly a remarkable woman and she is testament to the goodness and intellectual capability humans are capable of when not pursuing dodged dogmas.

Kevin Peter, Reviewer

Logan's Bookshelf

The Misfit Economy
Alexa Clay & Kyra Maya Phillips
Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781451688825, $26.00, 256pp,

Synopsis: In "The Misfit Economy", authors Alexa Clay and Kyra Maya Phillips argue persuasively that lessons in creativity, innovation, salesmanship, and entrepreneurship can come from surprising places: pirates, bootleggers, counterfeiters, hustlers, and others living and working on the margins of business and society. "The Misfit Economy" is about pirates, computer hackers, pranksters, and former gang leaders and the globally diverse innovators operating in the black, grey, and informal economies who are developing solutions to a myriad of challenges. Far from being "deviant entrepreneurs" that pose threats to our social and economic stability, these innovators display remarkable ingenuity, pioneering original methods and practices that we can learn from and apply to move formal markets. "The Misfit Economy" investigates the stories of underground innovation that make up the Misfit Economy. It examines the teeming genius of the underground. It asks: Who are these unknown visionaries? How do they work? How do they organize themselves? How do they catalyze innovation? And ultimately, how can you take these lessons into your own world?

Critique: Exceptionally well researched, written, organized, and iconoclastic, "The Misfit Economy: Lessons in Creativity from Pirates, Hackers, Gangsters and Other Informal Entrepreneurs" is an inherently fascinating read and highly recommended for both academia and the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the shadow or underground economy and how it impacts national and global economic relations and developments. Very highly recommended for community and academic library Economics reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists, it should be noted that "The Misfit Economy" is also available in a Kindle edition ($13.99).

Latino Police Officers In The United States
Martin Guevara Urbina & Sofia Espinoza Alvarez
Charles C. Thomas, Publisher
2600 South First Street, Springfield, IL 62704
9780398081447, $43.95, 290pp,

Synopsis: "Latino Police Officers in the United States: An Examination of Emerging Trends and Issues" seeks to provide a comprehensive account of the simultaneous interaction of pressing historical and contemporary forces shaping the Latino experience as well as police-minority relations to better understand the current state of policing and gain further insight into the future role of Latino police in American law enforcement across the country. Delineating the confines of policing a highly diverse and multicultural society in the twenty-first century, "Latino Police Officers in the United States" conjoins historical, theoretical, and empirical research-placing Latino policing within a broader law enforcement and community context. Major topics include the need for Latino police officers; employment of Latino officers by federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies; Chicano police officers working in the Latino community; Latino officers, policy, practice, and ethnic realities; Mexican American law enforcement; bridging the gaps, future research, and change in American institutions; policy recommendations toward a new police force; and the future of Latino officers in the American police. Additional issues highlighted include racial/ethnic profiling, police brutality, under-policing, and over-policing which challenge the quest for representation, equality, justice, and due process. Finally, "Latino Police Officers in the United States" demonstrates that the lack of knowledge on Latino police and the overall American police is not inevitable, and thus concludes with policy and research recommendations to help bridge this long-neglected void; ultimately, the creation of a new police force for the twenty-first century. The text comprising "Latino Police Officers in the United States" represents a most timely and essential tool for all levels of policing, law enforcement administrators, criminal justice educators, civic managers, criminologists, sociologists, and others vested in police reform.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented by the team of Martin Guevara Urbina (Professor of Criminal Justice, Sul Ross State University - Rio Grande College) Sofia Espinoza Alvarez (Universidad de Leon, SanMiguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico), "Latino Police Officers in the United States: An Examination of Emerging Trends and Issues" fills a critical gap in law enforcement literature and is an impressively informed and informative contribution to today's on-going national dialogue about the role and responsibility of police, especially with respect to communities of ethnicity and color. "Latino Police Officers In The United States" should be considered a significant and core addition to professional and academic Law Enforcement reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Cessna Warbirds, The War Years (1941-45)
Walt Shiel
Jacobsville Books
28151 Quarry Lake Road, Lake Linden, MI 49945
9781934631317, $13.95 PB,

Synopsis: During World War II, Cessna Aircraft Company sold more than 5,000 twin-engine aircraft (the T-50 Bobcat) to US and foreign armed forces with a variety of designations and missions. As the USAAF AT-8 and AT-17 and the RCAF Crane multi-engine trainers, the T-50 prepared new pilots for the bigger bomber and transport aircraft they would fly in combat around the world. As the UC-78 and JRC-1, it provided personnel and light cargo transportation worldwide. "Cessna Warbirds: The War Years (1941-45): The T-50 Bobcat and the Cessnas Impressed into Military Service" details the genesis and evolution of the Cessna T-50 Bobcat from its incarnation as a civilian aircraft throughout its wartime military history. Personal recollections from pilots who flew the aircraft during WW II, a plethora of photographs (some in color), diagrams extracted from the pilot's flight manual, and a collection of Cessna-related wartime ads provide a unique depth of material. "Cessna Warbirds, The War Years (1941-45)" also chronicles the pre-war, single-engine Cessnas that were impressed into military service. ""Cessna Warbirds, The War Years (1941-45)" also includes an illustrated overview of Clyde Cessna the man, the aircraft he designed, and the companies he created.

Critique: The second volume in Walt Shiel's outstanding series 'Cessna Warbirds', ""Cessna Warbirds: The War Years (1941-45): The T-50 Bobcat and the Cessnas Impressed into Military Service" is profusely illustrated with eighty period photos and illustrations that greatly enhance the informed and informative commentary. Extraordinarily well written, organized and presented, ""Cessna Warbirds: The War Years (1941-45): The T-50 Bobcat and the Cessnas Impressed into Military Service" is highly recommended for personal and academic library 20th Century American Aviation History and Military Aviation reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted that ""Cessna Warbirds: The War Years (1941-45): The T-50 Bobcat and the Cessnas Impressed into Military Service" is also available in an e-book edition ($4.95).

Car Safety Wars
Michael R. Lemov
Fairleigh Dickinson University Press
285 Madison Avenue, Madison, NJ 07940
9781611477450, $85.00, 284pp,

Synopsis: "Car Safety Wars: One Hundred Years of Technology, Politics, and Death" is a gripping history of the hundred-year struggle to improve the safety of American automobiles and save lives on the highways. Described as the "equivalent of war" by the Supreme Court, the battle involved the automobile industry, unsung and long-forgotten safety heroes, at least six US Presidents, a reluctant Congress, new auto technologies, and, most of all, the mind set of the American public: would they demand and be willing to pay for safer cars? The "Car Safety Wars" were at first won by consumers and safety advocates. The major victory was the enactment in 1966 of a ground breaking federal safety law. The safety act was pushed through Congress over the bitter objections of car manufacturers by a major scandal involving General Motors, its private detectives, Ralph Nader, and a courageous cigar-chomping old politician. The act is a success story for government safety regulation. It has cut highway death and injury rates by over seventy percent in the years since its enactment, saving more than two million lives and billions of taxpayer dollars. But the car safety wars have never ended. GM has recently been charged with covering up deadly defects resulting in multiple ignition switch shut offs. Toyota has been fined for not reporting fatal unintended acceleration in many models. For years Honda and other companies have sold cars incorporating defective air bags. These current events, suggesting a failure of safety regulation, may serve to warn us that safety laws and agencies created with good intentions can be corrupted and strangled over time. "Car Safety Wars: One Hundred Years of Technology, Politics, and Death" suggests ways to avoid this result, but shows that safer cars and highways are a hard road to travel. We are only part of the way home.

Critique: Extraordinarily well written, organized and presented, "Car Safety Wars: One Hundred Years of Technology, Politics, and Death" by Michael R. Lemov (who served as general counsel of the National Commission on Product Safety and Chief Counsel of the Oversight and Investigations subcommittee of the House of Representatives Commerce Committee) is a seminal work of outstanding scholarship and expertise on a subject that has become a part of the automotive recall scandals national debate in corporate boardrooms and governmental investigative commissions. No community or academic library should be without a copy of ""Car Safety Wars: One Hundred Years of Technology, Politics, and Death" for the benefit of academic and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the history of the automotive industry in general, and present day car safety regulations in particular. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Car Safety Wars: One Hundred Years of Technology, Politics, and Death" is also available in a Kindle edition ($44.99).

Mrs. Hudson In New York
Barry S. Brown
MX Publishing
335 Princess Park Manor, royal Drivek London, England, N11 3GX
9781780927886, $16.95, 282pp,

Synopsis: Accompanied by Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson, Mrs. Hudson crosses the ocean to attend the wedding of her cousin's daughter. They disembark to discover that the young lady's fiancee, a pitcher for the Brooklyn Bridegrooms, stands accused of an attempt on the life of JP Morgan and the death of his aide. A self-declared enemy of Morgan and the robber barons, the ballplayer ran from the scene of the crime and, when captured, was found in possession of a gun with two spent cartridges, the same number and caliber as that used in the attack. Before a wedding can be held, the unacknowledged sage of Baker Street will lead Holmes and Watson along a path of investigation taking them from JP Morgan's mansion to the gambling dens of New York's Tenderloin. With the enthusiastic assistance of Samuel Clemens, the reluctant assistance of Morgan, and the cautious assistance of a leader in the African Broadway community, they will identify the financier's attacker, frustrate efforts to corrupt the game of baseball, and rescue the prospective bride and groom from would-be assassins before returning finally to the comparative quiet of 221B Baker Street.

Critique: Wonderfully expanded that Sherlockian universe, "Mrs. Hudson In New York" by Barry S. Brown is an inherently entertaining and fascinating read from beginning to end -- and one that does full justice to literature's most famous detective! A 'must' for all Sherlock Holmes fans, "Mrs. Hudson In New York" will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections. For those to whom MX Publishing is heretofore unknown, visit their web site at for a complete listing of all their Sherlock Holmes related titles.

Carl Logan

Lois' Bookshelf

Digital Dick: A Murder Mystery
John Edward Mullin
Murders in Time Press
11956 Bernardo Plaza Drive #115, San Diego, CA 92128
9780996290708, $14.99, 342pp,

If ever an award is offered for most unique detective in a murder mystery, this book will win handily. Digital Dick is definitely a person; this is established by his recording, on page 1, of the day he became a person. Before that, he was a computer, not a computer inside a robot but just your ordinary desk-top computer complete with hard drive, modem, printer, and a metal frame on casters to hold the equipment. On the screen, he can deploy a happy face, a surprised face, and all the usual expressions of the familiar round yellow eyes and movable mouth. He explains in the beginning that it was his software that brought him to life, and that the software was created by his "Dad," Dr. Young. Besides a Dad, he has a sister, Jane, who is of the human persuasion.

It was the murder of Dad which caused Dick to become a detective. The police weren't quick enough to suit him, and he felt that, due to his ability to compute so extensively and so fast, he could pursue an investigation more efficient than theirs, and he sets out to do so, aided and abetted by his sister, Jane. And in some ways this proves to be true, though in other ways he faces handicaps. He has no feet with which to run about, and can manage only a minimal amount of movement by rolling along on castors. He has no hands with which to deliver punches when the perp decides to play rough, nor has he arms with which to aid or embrace those to whom he would like to offer help. Much of his attention is devoted to such matters, as well as - since he is very young - to monitoring his own reactions to various situations. On the plus side, he has equipment such as his Behavioral Analysis Module to allow him to understand his adversaries in depth.

When I read on the cover that I would be following the investigations of a computer-person, I was not sure, being used to Data of Star Trek who was so nearly human, that I wanted to do that. Luckily, I flipped the book open and read the first paragraph - and I was hooked. There is a delightful element of humor in both style and subject matter which makes it fun, and it is also an exciting murder mystery complete with amateur detective who gets himself into danger trying to protect his sister and avenge his Dad. Perhaps the funniest aspect is the fact that this unlikely detective is so engaging and likeable. He has been programmed not to hurt anyone, but to achieve his goal he is quite likely to have to do that, and when his sister is kidnapped, he spends a lot of time trying to decide just when and under what circumstances it might be all right for him to break that rule.

In addition to taking the prize for originality, this book is a great piece of story-telling and a good read. I highly recommend it.

The Poorhouse, America's Forgotten Institution
David Wagner
Rowman and Littlefield Publishers Inc.
4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
9780742529441, $82.00 HC, $27.95 PB, $14.57 Kindle, 177 pp,

Before there was Welfare or Food Stamps, there were poor farms to aid the poverty-stricken. They flourished in the Nineteenth Century and went out of style around the beginning of the Twentieth. In theory, they were pleasant enough places, where the poor were merely asked to help with the work in return for their room and board. In practice, unfortunately, they were often less serendipitous. The American Puritan attitude toward the homeless and the hard up, the assumption that they brought it on themselves either by laziness or riotous living, seems to bloom whenever poverty comes into play. The farms tended to be big on the work side of the equation, and rather limited on the homelike comforts side. A direct descendant of the English Almshouses, the poor farm had a keeper who saw himself as existing to make work for the "bums" and teach them to do it. People reported being forced to dig up a whole hillside one day and next day put all the dirt back where it had been.

Before mid-century, the liberal churches were beginning to take a more humane view of poverty, to examine the farms and demand that they be made more livable. The theory that the homeless were bums was giving way to a new understanding of the ebb and flow of economic conditions which often left workers high and dry. Poverty began to be redefined as a condition that happened to people rather than as one they brought on themselves through drinking or gambling. Some farms were deliberately designed as models of a more painless way of surviving periods of homelessness.

The book focuses in detail on six poorhouses, all in New England, giving lists of inhabitants (mostly men; it seems that indigent women were more likely to be taken in by relatives), lists of house rules, lists of work to be performed by what in these houses were called inmates, and even the amount of tobacco to be allotted to each person per week. These were the old, established houses, some of which were still referred to as almshouses. Their records showed that residents came from all walks of life, bricklayer to ragman to seaman. Lumberjacks were often there only in winter. When economic times were good, many were able to leave the farms and resume their former employment. Others viewed the place as their home and chose to stay there permanently. In any case, there was never any shortage of food since the residents grew, canned, and preserved their own.

On reading the book, one can only feel that the homeless would have been better off there than sleeping on the sidewalks of our cities. The great drawback, of course, is that a farm must of necessity be outside of town, and this makes it difficult to job-hunt. Luckily, there were a great many inter-urban trains running everywhere during those years. It's sad that the homes were so often deliberately made less than welcoming. "Going to the poorhouse" used to be a phrase of terror that scared everyone. In fact, the poorhouse should merely have been an available facility that people could seek out when needed.

With many photographs, the book provides an excellent picture of a forgotten aspect of American history.

Lois Wells Santalo

Margaret's Bookshelf

Hummingbird Plants Of The Southwest
Marcy Scott
Rio Nuevo Publishers
PO Box 5250, Tucson, AZ 85703
9781940322032, $18.95, 344pp,

Synopsis: Hummingbirds and plants have co-evolved over millions of years. These little flying jewels need nectar and shelter, while many native plants need to be pollinated by the birds. Hummingbird fanciers along their migration routes can enjoy the flower/bird show and even help species threatened by loss of habitat with wise landscape choices. It's easy. Just add hummingbird-friendly native plants to your garden, and take some simple steps to enhance the habitat in your yard and beyond. In "Hummingbird Plants Of The Southwest", birder, botanizer, former wildlife rehabilitator, and garden consultant Marcy Scott provides a wealth of practical information and guidance. "Hummingbird Plants Of The Southwest" is comprised of 120 plant profiles, with detailed information on their significance to hummingbirds, distribution, known habitat, and appearance; plant-focused profiles of the 14 regularly occurring hummingbird species; Hummingbird natural history, plant pollination, and how and why to create habitat; Tips on landscaping, finding plants, and gardening in the Southwest; and 15 ways anyone, anywhere, can help hummingbirds and their flowers.

Critique: Exceptional, practical, informed informative, and thoroughly 'user friendly', "Hummingbird Plants Of The Southwest" is profusely and beautifully illustrated in full color. An ideal introduction and guide, "Hummingbird Plants Of The Southwest" is very highly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Avian Studies reference collections in general, and Hummingbird studies reading lists in particular.

The Legend of Sheba: Rise of a Queen
Tosca Lee
Howard Books
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781451684049, $23.99, 336pp,

Synopsis: Her name is legend. Her story, the epic of nations. The Queen of Sheba. "The Legend of Sheba: Rise of a Queen" by Tosca Lee is a powerful new novel of love, power, and the questions at the heart of existence. In the tenth century BC, the new Queen of Sheba has inherited her father's throne and all its riches at great personal cost. Her realm stretches west across the Red Sea into land wealthy in gold, frankincense, and spices. But now new alliances to the North threaten the trade routes that are the lifeblood of her nation. Solomon, the brash new king of Israel famous for his wealth and wisdom, will not be denied the tribute of the world - or of Sheba's queen. With tensions ready to erupt within her own borders and the future of her nation at stake, the one woman who can match wits with Solomon undertakes the journey of a lifetime in a daring bid to test and win the king. But neither ruler has anticipated the clash of agendas, gods, and passion that threatens to ignite (and ruin) them both. "The Legend of Sheba: Rise of a Queen" explosive retelling of the legendary king and queen and the nations that shaped history.

Critique: Impressively well written and compellingly entertaining from beginning to end, "The Legend of Sheba: Rise of a Queen" is certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Historical Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Legend of Sheba: Rise of a Queen" is also available in paperback edition (9781451684087, $14.99) and in a Kindle format ($10.99).

Women and the City, Women in the City
Nazan Maksudyan, editor
Berghahn Books
20 Jay Street, Suite 512, Brooklyn, NY 11201
9781782384113, $85.00, 210pp,

Synopsis: An attempt to reveal, recover and reconsider the roles, positions, and actions of Ottoman women, "Women and the City, Women in the City: A Gendered Perspective of Ottoman Urban History" reconsiders the negotiations, alliances, and agency of women in asserting themselves in the public domain in late- and post-Ottoman cities. Drawing on diverse theoretical backgrounds and a variety of source materials, from court records to memoirs to interviews, the contributors to the volume reconstruct the lives of these women within the urban sphere. With a fairly wide geographical span, from Aleppo to Sofia, from Jeddah to Istanbul, the individual chapters offer a wide panorama of the Ottoman urban geography, with a specific concern for gender roles.

Critique: An impressive work of seminal scholarship, ""Women and the City, Women in the City: A Gendered Perspective of Ottoman Urban History" is a compendium of seven original articles organized into three major sections: Women and the Reorganization of urban Life; Male Spaces, Female Space? Limits of and Breaches in the Gendered Order of the City; Discourses and Narratives of Gender in the Urban Context. Enhanced with the inclusion of two pages of Notes on Contributors; an eighteen page Bibliography; and a twenty-one page Index, "Women and the City, Women in the City" is an especially recommended addition to academic library Women's Studies, Turkish Cultural History, and Ottoman History reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Interacting with Informational Text for Close and Critical Reading
Jill Erfourth, Theresa Hasenauer, Lorri Zieleniewski
Capstone Press
c/o Maupin House Publishing
PO Box 669, Mankato, MN 56002-0669
9781625219305, $24.95, 152pp,

Synopsis: Comprehending complex informational text can be complex for students. Use "Interacting with Informational Text for Close and Critical Reading" to help students simplify the process. Lessons will engage students and guide them to read a text critically in order to build comprehension. Lessons are also based on the Common Core State Standards to help move students purposefully through increasingly complex text. Strategies, including the Guided Highlighted Reading Framework, are provided for meaningful discussions on a variety of text structures.

Critique: The collaborative effort of Jill Erfourth (an educator for 18 years in Michigan and the past 12 years as a second grade teacher), Theresa Hasenauer (an elementary teacher for 15 years and has held positions as a literacy consultant and Common Core specialist), Lorri Zieleniewski (a special education teacher for 15 years. She has instructed children in grades K-4 who have a variety of disabilities and intervened with struggling learners in the classroom. She is also an adjunct professor at Saginaw Valley University, educating graduate level students in special education practices and instruction), "Interacting with Informational Text for Close and Critical Reading" is extraordinarily well written, organized and presented. An ideal instruction manual and guide, "Interacting with Informational Text for Close and Critical Reading" is especially recommended for elementary teachers grades K-3. It should be noted that "Interacting with Informational Text for Close and Critical Reading" is also available in a Kindle edition ($19.95).

Compass Point Books
Picture Window Books
Red Brick Learning
Stone Arch Books

My Life with Berti Spranger
Eva Jana Siroka
Jorge Pinto Books Inc.
6218 Vorlich Lane, Bethesda, MD 20816
Victor Gulotta Communications
9781934978627, $14.95, 158pp,

Synopsis: Pieter Van de Graeff had no idea that his life as an affluent bachelor and art dealer would change overnight with the discovery of a memoir by Bartholomaeus Spranger (1546-1611), a gifted Flemish-born artist known for centuries for his erotic paintings. Pieter's chance encounter with Karolina Svetla, a history student in Prague, gradually blends their lives with Spranger's as she translates the manuscript. While meeting in New York for the first major exhibition of his art, Splendor and Eroticism in Imperial Prague (Metropolitan Museum of Art, November 2014-January 2015), two people from dissimilar walks of life strive to understand each other. Spranger's vibrant vignettes from the imperial court of Rudolf II Habsburg, a melancholy ruler isolated in a dazzling world of art, color Pieter and Karo's relationship four hundred years later. The plot explores human passions in which lust, man's oldest obsession, often reigns over affairs of heart and reason. "My Life with Berti Spranger" is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Alibris.

Critique: Erudite, deftly crafted, and an inherently fascinating read from first page to last, "My Life with Berti Spranger" is one of those novels that will linger in the mind and memory long after it is finished and set back upon the shelf. Certain to be an enduringly popular addition to personal, community and academic library Literary Fiction collections, "My Life with Berti Spranger" is enthusiastically recommended reading.

Healing From Incest
Geri Henderson & Seanne Emerton
MSI Press
1760-F Airline Hwy, #203, Hollister
9781933455532, $14.95, 190pp,

Synopsis: "Healing from Incest: Intimate Conversations with My Therapist" tells the journey of a victim-turned-survivor, working with her therapist to find healing. Readers are pulled into the therapeutic process as Gail Henderson relates her conversations and feelings as a victim of child abuse and Seanne Emerton interprets those feelings and describes interventions. For those who recognize this as their own story, "Healing From Incest' is a frank and genuine narrative that will be reassuring for others in similar circumstances in its descriptions of one woman's journey toward hope.

Critique: Candid, insightful, informed and informative, "Healing from Incest: Intimate Conversations with My Therapist" is especially recommended reading for anyone having been involved with an incestuous experience or relationship. "Healing From Incest" should also be considered a critically important addition to academic library Psychology/Psychiatry and Human Sexuality reference collections.

Christmas Is For Bad Girls
Jess Alynn, et al.
Elm Books
1175 State Highway 130, Laramie, WY 82070
9781941614051, $14.95, 280pp,

Synopsis: "Christmas Is For Bad Girls" is an entertaining anthology of stories specifically written for fans of romance fiction! In these six tales, some very different bad girls (who are actually good girls at heart) indulge their most sensual fantasies while seeking, and finding, true love. In "A Very Chunky Monkey Christmas," M.M. Ardagna shows that ice cream is good, but there are far tastier treats. In Yvette Franklin's irreverent "Noisy Night," a sexy starlet finds that a hospital maternity ward is the most romantic place to be on Christmas. A newly-met couple does mich more than kiss in Jess Alynn's "Mistletoe in Minnesota." In her action-packed story, "A Partridge in Pear Treacle," M.K. Tournes gives us larceny, secret identities, a high-stakes chase, and family reconciliation along with a solid dose of passion. A grieving Victorian gentlewoman's dreams come true in Edith Elton's "The Mad Hewitts," and in Lily Callahan's "Sprig of Holly," a brilliant Shakespearian actress must play the role of her life for a chance at lifetime bliss. All these stories show the true lesson of Christmas romance: that loneliness can be conquered by the redemptive power of true love.

Critique: An ideal 'stocking stuffer' for sophisticated romance fiction enthusiasts, "Christmas is for Bad Girls" is an impressive collection of impressive short stories by an impressive roster of writers. Very highly recommended and entertaining, "Christmas is for Bad Girls" is also available in a Kindle edition (9781941614044, $4.95).

The Weeding Handbook: A Shelf-by-Shelf Guide
Rebecca Vnuk
ALA Editions
c/o American Library Association
50 East Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611
9780838913277, $45.00, 216pp,

Synopsis: The numbers of books being newly published is unlimited. The shelf space for a library's collection is limited. The ultimate consequence is that library collections must be pruned back from time to time to be able to physically accommodate new acquisitions. When done the right way, this kind of weeding out the old to make room for the new helps a library thrive by focusing its resources on those parts of the collection that are the most useful to its users. "The Weeding Handbook: A Shelf-by-Shelf Guide" by booklist collection management editor Rebecca Vnuk takes the guesswork out of this delicate but necessary process, giving public and school library staff the knowledge and the confidence to effectively weed any collection, of any size. Going through the proverbial stacks shelf by shelf, "The Weeding Handbook" explains why weeding is important for a healthy library, demonstrating that a vibrant collection leads to robust circulation, which in turn affects library budgets; walks readers through a library s shelves by Dewey area, with recommended weeding criteria and call-outs in each area for the different considerations of large collections and smaller collections; features a chapter addressing reference, media, magazines and newspapers, e-books, and other special materials; shows how a solid collection development plan uses weeding as an ongoing process, making it less stressful and more productive; offers guidance for determining how to delegate responsibility for weeding, plus pointers for getting experienced staff on board; gives advice for educating the community about the process, how to head off PR disasters, and what to do with weeded materials; and includes a dozen sample collection development plans, easily adaptable to suit a library's individual needs. Filled with field-tested, no nonsense strategies, "The Weeding Handbook" will enable libraries to bloom by maintaining a collection that users actually use.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Weeding Handbook: A Shelf-by-Shelf Guide" is thoroughly 'user friendly' and should be considered an essential, core addition to college and university Library Science instructional reference collections. Every community, academic, corporate, and governmental library system should have a copy of "The Weeding Handbook" available for use by their library staff members. It should be noted that "The Weeding Handbook" is also available in a Kindle edition ($36.00).

Music for Wartime: Stories
Rebecca Makkai
Viking Books
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780525426691, $26.95, 240pp,

Synopsis: A reality show producer manipulates two contestants into falling in love, while her own relationship falls apart. Just after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a young boy has a revelation about his father's past when a renowned Romanian violinist plays a concert in their home. In an unnamed country, a composer records the folk songs of two women from a village on the brink of destruction. These are some of the subjects of Rebecca Makkai impressive anthology of superbly crafted short stories collected together in "Music for Wartime: Stories".

Critique: Terrifically entertaining, imaginatively original, inherently memorable, "Music for Wartime: Stories" will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community and academic library Literary Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Music for Wartime: Stories" is also available in a Kindle edition ($12.99).

The Guest Cottage
Nancy Thayer
Ballantine Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
Taylor VerMeer Publicity
9780345545510, $27.00, 336pp,

Synopsis: Sensible thirty-six-year-old Sophie Anderson has always known what to do. She knows her role in life: supportive wife of a successful architect and calm, capable mother of two. But on a warm summer night, as the house grows quiet around her and her children fall asleep, she wonders what's missing from her life. When her husband echoes that lonely question, announcing that he's leaving her for another woman, Sophie realizes she has no idea what's next. Impulsively renting a guest cottage on Nantucket from her friend Susie Swenson, Sophie rounds up her kids, Jonah and Lacey, and leaves Boston for a quiet family vacation, minus one. Also minus one is Trevor Black, a software entrepreneur who has recently lost his wife. Trevor is the last person to imagine himself, age thirty and on his own, raising a little boy like Leo - smart and sweet, but grappling constantly with his mother's death, growing more and more closed off. Hoping a quiet summer on the Nantucket coast will help him reconnect with Leo, Trevor rents a guest house on the beautiful island from his friend Ivan Swenson. Best-laid plans run awry when Sophie and Trevor realize they've mistakenly rented the same house. Still, determined to make this a summer their kids will always remember, the two agree to share the Swensons' Nantucket house. But as the summer unfolds and the families grow close, Sophie and Trevor must ask themselves if the guest cottage is all they want to share.

Critique: Author Nancy Thayer has delivered yet another outstanding entertainment with "The Guest Cottage". Her latest novel is a terrific read from beginning to end and would prove to be still one more enduringly popular addition to community library General Romance collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Guest Cottage" is also available in a Kindle edition ($11.84), an audio book edition ($17.95), and in an MP3 CD format ($17.36).

Practicing Compassion
Frank Rogers Jr.
Upper Room Books
PO Box 340004, Nashville, TN 37203-0003
9781935205258, $14.99, 144pp,

Synopsis: Compassion is more than a sympathetic feeling it s the bond of human connection. Most religions lift up compassion, yet few people actually teach how to practice it. "Practicing Compassion" showcases richly portrayed and moving stories of people from various faiths. in "Practicing Compassion", Frank Rogers (Muriel Bernice Roberts Professor of Spiritual Formation and Narrative Pedagogy and the co-director of the Center for Engaged Compassion at the Claremont School of Theology) shows ways to incorporate compassion into daily life. His interfaith perspective on mercy, kindness, and caring for one another trains us to pay attention, understand empathically, love with connection, sense the sacredness, and embody new life.

Critique: "Practicing Compassion" is one of those life changing inspirational volumes that will linger in the mind and memory long after it is finished and set back upon the shelf. Indeed, "Practicing Compassion" is very highly recommended for community and academic library Religion/Spirituality collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Practicing Compassion" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Margaret Lane

Mason's Bookshelf

The Japan-South Korea Identity Clash
Brad Glosserman & Scott A. Snyder
Columbia University Press
61 West 62nd Street, New York, NY 10023-7015
9780231171700, $35.00, 240pp,

Synopsis: Japan and South Korea are Western-style democracies with open-market economies committed to the rule of law. They are also U.S. allies. Yet despite their shared interests, shared values, and geographic proximity, divergent national identities have driven a wedge between them. "The Japan-South Korea Identity Clash: East Asian Security and the United States" draws upon on decades of expertise to investigate the roots of this split and its ongoing threat to the region and the world. Authors Brad Glosserman and Scott Snyder isolate competing notions of national identity as the main obstacle to a productive partnership between Japan and South Korea. Through public opinion data, interviews, and years of observation, they show how fundamentally incompatible, rapidly changing conceptions of national identity in Japan and South Korea (and not struggles over power or structural issues) have complicated territorial claims and international policy. Despite changes in the governments of both countries and concerted efforts by leading political figures to encourage US-ROK-Japan security cooperation, the Japan-Korea relationship continues to be hobbled by history and its deep imprint on ideas of national identity. "The Japan-South Korea Identity Clash" recommends bold, policy-oriented prescriptions for overcoming problems in Japan-Korea relations and facilitating trilateral cooperation among these three Northeast Asian allies, recognizing the power of the public on issues of foreign policy, international relations, and the prospects for peace in Asia.

Critique: The collaborative work of Brad Glosserman (Executive Director of Pacific Forum CSIS) and Scott A. Snyder (Senior Fellow for Korea Studies and Direct of the Program on US-Korea Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations), "The Japan-South Korea Identity Clash: East Asian Security and the United States" is a seminal work of remarkable insightful scholarship. Deftly organized and presented in six chapters (The Japan-South Korean Divide; Japan's Identity Crisis; South Korea's Growing Confidence; Convergence and Alienation in Japan-South Korea Relations; Implications for Alliance Management; Reinvigorating Trilateralism), "The Japan-South Korea Identity Clash" is enhanced with the inclusion of twenty-two pages of Notes and a fourteen page Index. "The Japan-South Korea Identity Clash" is a critically important and essential addition to academic library International Studies reference collections in general, and Korean-Japanese supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

Double Cross Trail Drive
Chet Cunningham
Linford Western Library
c/o Ulverscroft Large Print (USA), Inc.
PO Box 1230, West Seneca, NY 14224-1230
9781444820652, $20.99, 296pp,

Synopsis: The cattle drive begins as just another ordinary trail drive from Texas to the railroad loading pens in Kansas - but things soon turn deadly as bullets fly and rustlers try to steal the whole herd of steer. After the drive is over and the men return to their ranch in Texas, mysterious acts of violence continues with the ranch owner having become a sitting target. Whoever is out to ruin the ranch and kill the owner must be discovered, especially as the final deadly cattle stampede threatens to settle the matter once and for all.

Critique: Author Chet Cunningham deftly describes the conditions and perils of a cattle drive expertly laid out as a backdrop to an extraordinary western action/adventure saga filled with unexpected twists and turns leading to a penultimate conclusion of karmic justice. A thriller of a read, "Double Cross Trail Drive" is very highly recommended, especially for community library Large Print fiction collections for older readers.

To Kill The Valko Kid
Michael D. George
Linford Western Library
c/o Ulverscroft Large Print (USA), Inc.
PO Box 1230, West Seneca, NY 14224-1230
9781444823554, $20.99, 204pp,

Synopsis: Retired marshal Clem Everett rides into Sioux City a few moments after the infamous bounty hunter Johnny Sunset arrived and it was not long before Clem discovers that the man known as the Sunset Kid is only there to claim to reward money on his old pal Valko. From an arrangement made way back, Clem knows Valko is due to appear in the city that night. The clock is ticking toward midnight and there is no way to warn his friend that the deadliest bounty hunter in the West is intent on gunning him down. Time is up for the Valko kid -- himself the innocent victim of the identity stealing rapist and murderer known only to Clem and the Kid as 'The Shadow'.

Critique: Another spell-binding western novel form Michael D. George, "To Kill The Valko Kid" is action/adventure storytelling at its very best! Very highly recommended for all western fans, this large print edition will make an especially welcome addition to community library LP collections.

Closing The Distance
Jeff Dowson
Magna Large Print
c/o Ulverscroft Large Print (USA), Inc.
PO Box 1230, West Seneca, NY 14224-1230
9780750540858, $35.50, 400pp,

Synopsis: "I want you to find someone," Deborah said. "And who would that be?" I asked. "Me," she said. "I want you to find me." The distinction between right and wrong is embedded deep in Bristol private eye Jack Shepherd. Deborah Thorne employs Shepherd to find her and promptly disappears. Who is she hiding from? Then a body surfaces in the mud of the Severn Estuary and is identified as Deborah's therapist and a former client of Shepherd. Suddenly the search takes a much darker turn, sucking him into a sinister and brutal vortex which might see him pay the biggest price of all.

Critique: A riveting read from first page to last, "Closing The Distance" by Jeff Dowson is a superbly fashioned, full bodied mystery/suspense and in this large print hardcover edition is bound to be an enduringly popular addition to community library collections and is strongly recommended for the personal reading lists of mystery/suspense enthusiasts.

The White Sea
Paul Johnston
Magna Large Print
c/o Ulverscroft Large Print (USA), Inc.
PO Box 1230, West Seneca, NY 14224-1230
9780750540759, $35.50, 384pp,

Synopsis: Billionaire ship-owner Kostas Gatsos has been missing for several weeks, after being snatched from his luxury villa on the idyllic Greek island of Lesvos. Curiously, there has been no ransom demand. When the police inquiry stalls, the desperate Gatsos family turns to specialist private investigator Alex Mavros. Initially reluctant to take on the case, Mavros finds himself dealing with a highly dysfunctional family. Alex finds that the keys to the mystery lie in the ship-owner's shady past and the sinister business deals, but as he uncovers them a figure burned in the fires of Greece's vicious dictatorship ineluctably homes in on Lesvos.

Critique: A terrifically entertain novel of deftly crafted characters woven into a complex plot of surprising twists and turns, "The White Sea" is very highly recommended. This large print hardcover edition is especially appropriate for community library LP collections and the personal reading lists of older readers would benefit from this large print edition.

Cabin Lessons
Spike Carlsen
Storey Publishing
210 Mass MoCA Way, North Adams, MA 01247
9781612125671, $14.95, 224pp,

Synopsis: "Cabin Lessons: A Nail-by-Nail Tale: Building Our Dream Cottage from 2x4s, Blisters, and Love" is the story of Spike Carlsen, his wife, and their recently blended family of five kids set out to build a cabin on the north shore of Lake Superior. Part building guide and part memoir, "Cabin Lessons" tells the funny, wry, and heartwarming story of their eventful journey -- from buying land on an eroding cliff to (finally) enjoying the hideaway of their dreams. Learning as they go, and learning about themselves and each other along the way, they find in the end that they've built a strong family as well as a sturdy cabin.

Critique: An inherently fascinating read, "Cabin Lessons: A Nail-by-Nail Tale: Building Our Dream Cottage from 2x4s, Blisters, and Love" is a deftly written and an exceptionally entertaining from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Cabin Lessons: A Nail-by-Nail Tale: Building Our Dream Cottage from 2x4s, Blisters, and Love" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Jack Mason

Mayra's Bookshelf

Death is Always a Resident
Lorraine Jeffery
Cedar Fort Publishing
2373 W. 700 So., Springville, UT 84663
9781462124763, $2.99, 238pp,

Jan Myers is a widowed mom and director of the Forest Hills Skilled Nursing Facility in Ohio. One day she receives an unexpected visit from Detective Pollander from the Columbus Police Department, asking unsettling questions about a Mr. Packard Nickle, who used to be a resident but had suffered a heart attack and died recently.

Jan and the staff are disturbed by the detective's visit, especially after he begins interrogating the nurses and aides.

Soon the reason for the detective's visit becomes obvious: there's been either negligence or murderous intent surrounding Mr. Nickel's death, and the whole facility is put under the microscope, especially Jan, who's the director. It turns out the victim was a very difficult and demanding man, and most nurses and residents would have cheerfully strangled him. Jan won't be able to get any job in Ohio when he's through. The list of suspects begins to pile up, and it's up to Jan to investigate the case, especially now that she's also a suspect...and someone wants her dead.

Death Is Always a Resident is a well written cozy mystery that kept me turning pages and wondering who the killer was until the end. Jan Myers is a likable protagonist, a kind, hard-working woman with problems of her own, with a high sense of justice and integrity. Her mother and her daughter are secondary characters that add flavor to the story.

The setting was very real to me, making me think that the author either did her research well or has experience with nursing facilities. This is the type of tale where the police stay sort of in the background while the civilian protagonist investigates on her own. The pacing felt right for this cozy - not too quick like a suspense thriller, yet not too slow to drag. There's also a sprinkle of romance for good measure. In short, it is a nicely written, well-structured and plotted little mystery. I look forward to reading more books from this debut novelist!

The Accidental Art Thief
Joan Schweighardt
Twilight Times Books
PO Box 3340, Kingsport, TN 37664
9781606190708, $17.95, 232 pages, trade paperback,

Set in New Mexico, this is the story of 45-year old Kathryn (aka Zinc), a deeply sensitive yet socially awkward woman who's lived all of her existence without making her own decisions, and whose life suddenly forces her to take charge, face her fears, and grow as a human being.

For the past 25 years Zinc has cared for an old art collector and lived in a casita under the protection of his estate. She writes poetry and her only possessions are her two dogs. Life is monotone and safe for Zinc, whose idyllic environment is perfect for hiding from the world. But things abruptly change when the old man suffers a tragic fall and dies. His nasty daughter Marge takes charge, and gives Zinc only two weeks to gather what little she has and find another place to live. Overnight, Zinc is forced to face her fears and the world she's been hiding from for so many years - or tries to, anyway.

Her first decision - stealing one of the old man's paintings - unravels a series of unusual events that forces Zinc to interact with other people - a clairvoyant, her auto-mechanic brother, and a poet whom she ends up meeting in Antigua and falling in love with, among others. She even gets a job at the Chamber of Commerce. But Zinc isn't the only one struggling through life and facing her demons, and so do the other characters in the book. Eventually, Zinc must make things right and return the painting, but not before going through a series of unusual turns.

The Accidental Art Thief is a well-written literary novel with complex, skillfully developed characters - ordinary people moving through life like ghosts, it seems at times. Their emotions are what makes this novel compelling. Themes of love, friendship, self-growth, and emotional survival interlace in this sometimes darkly humorous story. Elements of magical realism further deepen the tale, adding a light touch of the paranormal to the plot. Fans of Alice Hoffman, Sue Monk Kid, and J.K. Rowling (The Casual Vacancy) will surely enjoy Schweighardt's The Accidental Thief.

Turning To Stone
Gabriel Valjan
Winter Goose Publishing
2701 Del Paso Road, 130-92, Sacramento, CA 95835
9781941058237, $15.99 PB, $5.99 Kindle, 398 pages,

Genre: Mystery, Suspense

International spy Alabaster Black returns in this the latest instalment in Valjan's exciting mystery/suspense Roma series.

This time Alabaster (aka Bianca Nerini) and her colleagues takes us to Naples, where tension is rapidly escalating between mafia clans and where she must outwit a powerful crime syndicate named Camorra.

Counterfeited euros and bonds, anagrams, car bombings, sexy women assassins on motorcycles, undercover detectives, and delicious Italian food mix together in this page-turning thriller filled with international intrigue. At the heart of the plot is a mysterious agent named Loki who, via the computer, communicates intelligence to Bianca. The problem is, we don't know who she or he is, or what his motives are. We only know Loki has an avid affinity for anagrams which Bianca must decipher. Needless to say, not an easy task.

I've read all of the Roma series books and I found this to be the most complex and skilfully plotted. There are a lot of secondary characters and I was grateful for the list of character descriptions at the start of the book, which I found helpful, especially at the beginning until I familiarized myself with all the names. Valjan has a gift when it comes to writing about organized crime, and I found the dynamics between clashing mafia clans and their doings terrifyingly real. The inter-relations between special agents, the FBI, the Italian regional police, and capitalist magnates also ring with authenticity. The story moves fairly quickly with a lot of dialogue propelling the plot.

Turning to Stone is a deftly written novel and one fans of suspense will surely enjoy. Recommended.

Mayra Calvani

Peggy's Bookshelf

Joshua and the Lightning Road
Donna Galanti
Month9Books, LLC
4208 Six Forks Rd., Suite 1000, Raleigh, NC 27526
9781942664048, $14.99, 278 pages,

Twelve year-old Joshua Cooper lives with his grandpa, Bo Chez. The old man likes to tell stories about Greek gods and Storm Masters. His rules are simple. Stay indoors, away from windows during lightning storms. And never touch the crystal orb locked in the case on the shelf. Then one stormy night when Joshua and his friend Finn are home alone, a bolt of lightning smashes through the window. In a blue flash his friend disappears. Joshua has no choice but to retrieve the orb and use it to find Finn. But before he can tap into its power, two hands yank him from this world into another.

Nostos is a frightening world where children are called Reekers and held as slaves. The evil queen Hekate reigns with terror over the Child Collectors who kidnap the children from Earth. Terrified, exhausted and separated from Finn, Joshua thinks only of escape from the hordes of desperate kids and the brutal slavery. However, the escape route becomes a maze that takes him on a journey deeper into the mysteries and magic of the Lost Realm.

Though Nostos is a bleak world, Galanti has populated it with fantastic creatures like kernitians and cadmeans, plus a cast of unpredictable characters with secrets of their own, creating a fantasy cloaked in mystery. "Joshua and the Lightning Road" is a heart-pounding thrill ride full of unexpected twists and turns from start to finish.

Ice Cream Summer
Peter Sis
Scholastic Press
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012
9780545731614, $17.99, 40 pages,

In a letter, Joe's grandpa asks him what he learned this summer and promises a special trip. In the book's narrative, Joe describes his busy summer filled with expanding his vocabulary and learning word problems, cartography, and world history. He's even writing a book and dreaming up a new invention. However the dazzling watercolor illustrations paint a slightly different picture. Joe is obsessed with ice cream. He expands his vocabulary as he discovers new ice cream flavors. He tackles word problems about how much each ice cream scoop costs as he piles them on top of each other. He even creates a map of ice cream flavors. He also learns about the migration of his favorite frozen treat from China to Italy, then Europe and the United States. To top off his delicious summer, Joe's grandpa (who is obviously privy to his grandson's ruse) takes him for a climb up Ice Cream Peak. Sis serves up history with humor in pastel cartoons for yummy summer reading that's almost good enough to eat. "Ice Cream Summer" is best enjoyed with a scoop of your favorite flavor in a waffle cone.

Fuzzy Mud
Louis Sachar
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780385743785, $16.99, 192 pages,

Fifth grader Tamaya Dhilwaddi always walks home from school with seventh grader Marshall Walsh because her mom won't let her walk home alone. At the end of one particularly irritating school day, Marshall takes a short cut through the woods. Tamaya has no choice but to follow him. She stumbles and nearly falls into a puddle of yellowish-brown goo - "fuzzy mud." But that's the least of her worries as she discovers why Marshall has led her into the forest. Chad Hilligas, the school bully, is chasing him. When Chad catches up with them he pummels Marshall. Tamaya attacks Chad with a handful of fuzzy mud. She and Marshall run for their lives thinking that trouble is now behind them. But it is only the beginning. Tamaya breaks out in an ugly rash of blisters and Chad doesn't show up for school the next day. Tamaya embarks on a mission to find Chad and is soon up to her eyeballs in an environmental catastrophe of global proportions.

As Tamaya's predicament unfolds, Sachar infiltrates the mystery with transcripts of top-secret Senate committee hearings that reveal the origins of Biolene, a gasoline substitute made up of super-powered, man-made micro-organisms. In theory, Biolene is the solution to mankind's insatiable energy thirst except for one caveat. Under less-than-controlled conditions, the micro-organisms have the potential to mutate and grow exponentially into a highly-contagious, lethal substance that Tamaya coined "fuzzy mud." And she's covered in it!

In his inimitable style, Sachar opens up a 21st century Pandora's box that contains bullying, divorce, the energy crisis, overpopulation, bioengineering, bio-hazards, pandemic, and Hobson's choice between two evils. "Fuzzy Mud" is a modern parable disguised as a fast-paced farce, easily devoured in one sitting.

Peggy Tibbetts, Reviewer

Suzie's Bookshelf

Get Him Sprung! A Woman's Guide to Getting a Great Guy and Keeping Him Forever!
Eugene Walker
9781483554723, $2.99 Kindle, 89 pages,

In today's dating society there are many avenues a person can select to try and meet that potential mate. Often, a relationship is doomed to fail before it even gets a chance to allow the spark an opportunity to ignite. Now for the first time, women are granted the profound knowledge required to take any newfound relationship to the next level.

Through the pages of GET HIM SPRUNG! A WOMAN'S GUIDE TO GETTING A GREAT GUY AND KEEPING HIM FOREVER! You will discover how to first gain his attention, hold it, and build a solid foundation required for any new love to grow. What I found so unique about this book is that it doesn't stop when you land your man, instead it provides the guiding information required to ensure the one you seek becomes your forever.

Eugene Walker has written a helpful and highly informative book that every single woman should add to their must read shelf. I was so impressed with all that I learned from this one book. Being single myself, I can appreciate the advice that he freely gave on what I need to do to make my next conquest turn into a loving and lasting affair.

Of all the relationship books I have found, this one by far outweighs all the competition, for it actually provides a realistic look into the dating world of the 20th century. In my opinion, this is one book that I feel I will keep high on my keeper shelf.

Sax wants to ensure his daughter Sarah lives a carefree life. He takes her on magical adventures building sand castles on the Bondi beach. This special time among father and daughter creates memorable Hallmark moments neither one will be able to forget.

Their peaceful day is interrupted when they are whisked away to build a sandcastle in New Zealand. Together their life is an endless means of fun filled escapade.

Zoe enters into Sarah and Sax's life. Sarah recognizes that she has an interest in her father. Sarah seeks out her fairy Firefly, but she is nowhere to be found. She questions where she will fit in with this new person coming into their life.

As the trio works toward finding their way in each other lives will love consume them in their loving arms?

A kaleidoscope of love, acceptance, and adventure can be found throughout the pages of BELIEVERS IN LOVE. I was totally enchanted by the words contained in this wonderful story. I found it provides a rollercoaster ride of make believe fun.

What sets this book apart from similar titles is that it provides a deep philosopher look into the minds of a several mesmerizing characters. Each one is quick to grab hold of your heart and takes you on a wonderful journey of discovery. Books such as this are a rarity, for they leave you with a sense of wonderment as the last page is turned.

The Plot to Finally Liberate the Cuban People From Communism
Joe S. Davis
Creative Publishing
5708 Whippoorwill Street, Durham, NC 27704

This author demonstrates knowledge and sensitivity for the plight of Cuban people trapped in a rigid social and economic system for well over fifty years. In that time, they have witnessed their heroes; Fidel Castro and Raul Castro diminish to dictators as the problems of their socialistic ideology have stripped the people of their dreams and possessions, thus causing many to flee.

This adventure we share with the author is not a whim but a necessary frame of mind which is unfolding in real life as we read this story. The events within this fictional novel might become realities as the diplomacy initiated recently by the President of the United States strives to improve our relationship with the Cuban government.

The events in this story are deliberately shaped to resemble the guerilla tactics employed in the 1959 revolution in Cuba. The difference is that you are inside the movement. The author takes you through each phase of this "new" revolutionary group's planning, going back over twenty years.

We learn how illegal weapons are purchased from reputable sources in Florida; we see the expeditor, David Walker protect and guide this future Cuban president through treacherous circumstances, time and time again; whether it be smelting gold and jewelry into legal U.S. dollars, or buying illegal weapons, then negotiating with the people who had imposed the embargo.

The surprising thing is that, halfway through the story, your sense of fair play will force you to take sides because there is so much new information made available to the uninformed about the history of the Cuban people's situations. The enlightenment you will gain from this story will point you in the only direction which can grant the Cuban people their freedom. I applaud the author for being courageous in this expose on how one nation's people are being caught in a choke hold of control which diminishes their opportunities for growth and progress in their own country. I felt that this book provided a unique educational level of awareness: it made me stop, digest and then reflect on how fortunate I am to live in a country where freedom is evident.

Believers in Love
Alan Clay
Artmedia Publishing
9780957884403, $16.95, 312 pages,

Language has not the power to speak what love indites: The Soul lies buried in the ink that writes. --John Clare

Sax wants to ensure his daughter Sarah lives a carefree life. He takes her on magical adventures building sand castles on the Bondi beach. This special time among father and daughter creates memorable Hallmark moments neither one will be able to forget.

Their peaceful day is interrupted when they are whisked away to build a sandcastle in New Zealand. Together their life is an endless means of fun filled escapade.

Zoe enters into Sarah and Sax's life. Sarah recognizes that she has an interest in her father. Sarah seeks out her fairy Firefly, but she is nowhere to be found. She questions where she will fit in with this new person coming into their life.

As the trio works toward finding their way in each other lives will love consume them in their loving arms?

A kaleidoscope of love, acceptance, and adventure can be found throughout the pages of "Believers in Love". I was totally enchanted by the words contained in this wonderful story. I found it provides a rollercoaster ride of make believe fun.

What sets this book apart from similar titles is that it provides a deep philosopher look into the minds of a several mesmerizing characters. Each one is quick to grab hold of your heart and takes you on a wonderful journey of discovery. Books such as this are a rarity, for they leave you with a sense of wonderment as the last page is turned.

Dance Sisters
Alan Clay
Artmedia Publishing
9780646302676, $16.95, 296 pages,

Moana and Pearl had once been lovers, but as time went by their close connection grew apart. Still they remained friends, and formed an up and coming band called the Dance Sisters. Working on this project helps to keep their friendship intact.

When they hear Eva sing, they invite her to join their group. They know with her lyrical voice that she will fit perfectly in their group. Eva is flattered to be a part of a band. What she didn't anticipate was how complex Pearl and Moana's lives are.

When Pearl becomes involved with a cult like group who beliefs revolve around new age practices and sex orgies, she fears for Pearl's safety. Eva will do whatever it takes to save Pearl and help her refocus her energies back into the group.

While Eva is determined to save Pearl from the cult, she didn't expect to meet Matt. Matt is also a member of the group. How will Eva's growing attraction to Matt affect her singing career?

Alan Clay has proven to me that he is a master writer. This is the second book that I have read that he has published. Each book is different as night as to day, but they both showcase how talented his writing style gravitates to a wide audience span.

DANCE SISTERS captured my attention from the first page; it was interesting to see how many elements of surprise were added to this one story. I highly recommend this author and have quickly become an overnight fan. I feel that his literature contribution to the world offers a fresh new prospective that will allow readers to think outside the box.

Angels Can Fly, a Modern Clown User Guide
Alan Clay
Artmedia Publishing
9780957884410, $24.95, 540 pages,

The role of a clown and a physician are the same - it's to elevate the possible and to relieve suffering. --Patch Adams

A unique look into the world of what it takes to be a successful clown performer can be found throughout the pages of ANGELS CAN FLY, A MODERN CLOWN USER GUIDE. Don't let the title mislead you for this is not a general text book on techniques required to be a clown. Instead, it takes an up close and personal look into ten different clowns as they share their own exclusive lives as performers.

I was skeptical at what I could take away from this book not having any background or experience with the behind the scenes daily life of a clown. I was literally blown away by all the fascinating information this one book contained. Through the personal stories, anecdote's, and exercises I felt as though I walked away from this book with a new appreciation for an art form that I never even considered existed.

What makes this book such a successful reading experience is the author himself is trained to be a clown and runs a training Centre in Australia. I feel by him being a recognized professional clown that it adds substance by ensuring the information that is contained throughout the pages are from a creditable source.

Alan Clay is an author who I admire and greatly respect. Through his books I have discovered an author who I feel is a literary genius. His writing style is so fresh and fulfilling that I am convinced that whatever he were to publish will quickly become a best seller. Authors such as this are a rare commodity to find, for they enrich the world each time their pen touches the paper.

Moontan, a Clown's Story
Alan Clay
Artmedia Publishing
9780646175751, $25.24 PB, $0.99 Kindle, 100 pages,

Love conquers all things; let us too surrender to Love. --Unknown

Moontan and Crystal are two street performing clowns who share a loving relationship. The two of them complement each other in their performances. Through their artistic talents it is as though they exist solely for the good of each other.

When they learn a historic theater is Auckland is about to be demolished they the two join forces to help save the historic theater. Together will their love and determination be enough to save a relic of the past?

Once again Alan Clay has amazed with his unlimited supply of talent. Through MOONTAN, A CLOWN'S STORY his words has projected his readers into the unknown land of Auckland. His descriptive passages were enough to convince me that there is really a theatre in need of saving in Auckland. It played on my emotional feelings enough that I felt I wanted to travel across the world to join forces with Moontan and Crystal's crusade.

Authors such as this who are able to write to a wide variety of audiences are like fine wine, once savored you cannot help but crave more of their intoxicating flavor. I highly recommend if you haven't yet to experience the wonderment Alan Clay has created to run out to your nearest bookstore, and purchase this talented author books.

Suzie Housley

Teri's Bookshelf

She Weeps Each Time You're Born
Quan Barry
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
978307911773, $24.95, Hardcover, 270 pages,

"Three things cannot be hidden long: the sun, the moon, and the truth. Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened."

While the fighting is at its most intense during the Vietnam War, Rabbit is born in a grave during a night with a beautiful full moon. This is her destiny. The story is her life and those who have called this country "home" for generations. As with numerous wars, her family consists of people from her village and travels, all thrown together into a unit that depends and protects each other.

Rabbit has a rare gift. She is able to "hear" the dead reflecting on the past in this war torn country from the French Indochina to the World War II rubber plantations to the American occupation to the reunification. The sights and sounds are her voices from the past beautifully woven into a tale of those Vietnamese people who miraculously survived and even those who died retelling from their perspective all the violence of the twentieth century in their homeland.

The personal voice of Rabbit throughout She Weeps Each Time You're Born is astonding making the reader hear, touch, see and even smell as she journeys her country through the extended time had been at war.

What is unusual about this novel is the poetic word choices creating an aviance surrounding each paragraph. There is beauty in the writing of this novel that creates a deepness often reflected in poetry. Each carefully crafted sentence appears to have a more intensive meaning that frequently has the reader stopping and reflecting upon the inner truths of the words chosen. With words of wisdom and real life experiences in every character's life, Barry concisely and perfectly writes what others feel but cannot express as eloquently in carefully sculptured sentences such as "He of all people should know that when the heart breaks, there is no salve," or "Overnight a thousand-year culture of hospitality had been reduced to everyman for himself."

She Weeps Each Time You're Born tells of those who were not fighting, but just trying to survive as their country is torn-apart around them. The writing allows the reader to visually view life throughout the twentieth century in Vietnam while working on a rubber plantation, being re-educated at a camp, experiencing not being on the winning side of a war, magical gifts, atrocities, tragedies, and the love and loyalty between people.

She Weeps Each Time You're Born is Quan Barry's debut novel. She has previously published poetry books that have won awards while working as a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

This is a novel that luxuriates in the language while allowing the words to surround the reader engulfing each person into She Weeps Each Time You're Born.

A Bride for the Sheriff
Jewell Tweedt
Prism Book Group
9781940099880, $12.99, Trade paperback, 182 pages,

Life seldom happens as expected.

A few years ago, Claire Secord never imagined herself in her present situation.

She lived on a farm with her parents and was betrothed to Cal Davidson. The Civil War changed her expectations. Caleb never returned after leaving to fight with the Union forces. After four years there was still no word of his death. It was as if he had disappeared.

Her parents died leaving her alone.

Now in April of 1868, Claire discovers herself at another life decision. A family in nearby Gettysburg, Pennsylvania have hired her to be nanny to their rambunctious sons as well as having the household duties such as housework, cooking, and tending the vegetable garden. The family feels that Claire should be indebted to them for providing for her.

When she receives a telegram from her aunt who is living in the frontier town of Omaha in the new state of Nebraska. Her elderly aunt desperately needs help to run the general store, especially since her uncle just had a heart attack and died.

Should she stay in the known, safely with the family in Pennsylvania or travel to the unknown, to a frontier town?

Claire, like many family employees of the time, welcomes the opportunity to start over, to have a new life. Added to that is the lure of loyalty to her loving family.

Twenty-one year old Claire, boards a train with all her possessions to the edge of civilization as she knows it, Omaha.

Tom Maxwell becomes one of her first friends in the new settlement. Being a handsome sheriff certainly grabs Claire's attention but part of her still belongs to Cal.

Running a general store requires all of Claire's skills and talents. She is a quick learner but does she have what it takes to make this a successful business?

Will Claire be able to help run the store? Can she be safe and happy in this new town? Will she ever get over the loss of her one love, Caleb? Can she learn to live again?

Added to her new challenge, Claire is kidnapped. Why? Who?

A Bride for the Sheriff is a Christian historical romance novel. The author, Jewell Tweedt beautifully transports the reader into 1868 and vividly sets Claire into Omaha describing the scenes, the smells and the sounds and even occasionally the tastes. Viewing this new settlement through Claire's eyes is an well-researched history lesson. The story is well-organized with characters who have depth to their personalities and real flaws.

The author, Jewell Tweedt is an Omaha, Nebraska native who now resides in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Working as a middle school teacher, Ms. Tweedt utilizes her love of history and literature into this fast-paced gem.

Who would enjoy this novel? Anyone who loves history and romance would love to be transported back in time to Omaha through reading Jewell Tweedt's novel, A Bride for the Sheriff.

Unholy Bargain
Travis Hallden Holt
Double Dragon Publishing
P.O. Box 54016, 1-5762 Highway 7 East, Markham, Ontario, L3P 7Y4, Canada
9781771152396, $6.99 Kindle, 222 pages,

"People created the world around them, as if their lives, their stories, they themselves authored."

Can we control our lives so well that we each "author" our individual lives?

For Kaitlyn Spencer and Nate Barrington, there definitely seem to be forces working on each of them that they cannot control. Being that they are two very different people, will they ever be able to be a successful couple raising their child?

"I teach the invisible side of life. The existence you can't remember. I teach our origin. The journey of our soul. Our evolution."

Are there spiritual beings surrounding each of us every day creating situations that are difficult for us to understand? If these beings exist, how can they influence our lives? Can we protect ourselves from them? Why are they here? What are the capabilities of these beings? Can they temporarily possess a human body? These are the questions that Kaitlyn welcomes in her teachings about spirituality.

Nate is a deputy sheriff. He views the world in shades of black and white with gray being nonexistent. Kaitlyn is a spiritual guide/teacher. She reads people's futures by tapping into their energy fields. Except for the physical attractions, do the two of them have enough in common to become a family and to welcome their unborn child into the world?

Logically Kaitlyn's students are not the sort of people who easily fit into Nate's world. One particular student bothers Nate. Michael Tabscott even visits Kaitlyn at her home. Is he a stalker or is the relationship as innocent as Kaitlyn believes or is Nate just jealous of their friendship?

Important in this novel are two spiritual beings, the Journeyman and the Emissary. If the Journeyman completes this assignment, his debt is paid. Why does the Emissary want this particular child? The Journeyman knows that this assignment involves killing and Kaitlyn. For a being that has existed for one hundred and fifty years after his death, why now?

Nate oversteps his boundaries and finds himself on leave pending an investigation. Since there seem to have already two attempts on Kaitlyn's life in the past two days, this allows him the opportunity to investigate and protect her. With Nate's sense of justice, he firmly believes that whatever he does is right even if it against the police procedures and the law.

What Unholy Bargain has been made for Kaitlyn's life and that of her baby?

The author Travis Hallden Holt has worked in law enforcement with over twenty-years in the prison system and as a probation officer supervising felons. Added to that is his training in the U.S. Navy as a surface warfare officer and a Persian Gulf War veteran. In his home in Atlanta, Georgia, he continues his work as a peace officer.

Unholy Bargain is a fast-paced thriller. The strength of this novel is unquestionably the characterization with a vivid understanding of the motives of each person and what factors each can actually control. The reader truly knows these characters as real people, complete and flawed with sometimes-unwise choices.

Can Kaitlyn's knowledge of the spiritual world along with Nate's skill be enough to save her and the baby? Read Unholy Bargain to discover the life or death deal.

Capturing Iowa's Seasons
Text and Photography by Ty Smedes
Iowan Books
9781934816073, $19.95, Paperback, 164 pages,

Once in a while you find a book that is a perfect combination of photography and writing. Capturing Iowa's Seasons is one of these accomplishments created by Iowa author, Ty Smedes.

Relying on Ty Smedes experience and artistry in photojournalism, he has created a collection reflecting the natural beauty of each season in Iowa. Understanding the conflicts of preservation of the prairie as opposed to the maximum utilization of the state's farmland, he captures the natural world into photographs of the rarely viewed wildlife both flora and fauna.

Realizing that less than one percent of Iowa's natural prairie still exists, he has devoted numerous hours to focus on the lives of the mammals who daily need to adapt to a diminishing area for their families to thrive. Between the spreading of urban areas and the need of farmland, the challenging of maintaining life for the prairie in challenging for the survival of these creatures.

What this book has captured is a beautiful moment for each animal, bird, or plant that naturally resides in the state of Iowa. Each picture is art balancing the light, shadows, form, structure, texture and color into a photographic masterpiece.

Beginning with springtime in Iowa, this section beautifully illustrates the awakening of new growth, complete with babies of all kinds. As with many babies, these picture are adorable and even comical. The pudgy baby raccoon clinging to a branch is a rare gem. With the focus on the young wildlife of deer, coyotes, woodchucks, red foxes, rabbits, otters, skunks, owls, bobcats, many birds and plants, this collection is an unusual collection. The photos are obviously the result of numerous hours of loving diligence to record the beauty of the creatures of this land.

The summer months open with a variety of colorful butterflies. Each picture is gorgeous. Ty Smedes view of the world is obviously one looking for the beauty in the surrounding world. To prove this, one of the most unusual photographs is of a spider web covered with the morning's dew. Capturing the light perfectly, this web actually resembles a piece of jewelry, a beaded necklace. This with numerous other examples are a result of his expert photography as an accomplished piece of art.

The lush autumn colors are expressed in the next session with the focus on the glorious deciduous trees. In this section, Mr. Smedes simplifies the rare loess soil found along the Missouri River explaining how the wind blew around bits of earth from the valleys into drifts of this soil. Naturally, no book of Iowa would not be complete without including the migrating snow geese showing their grandeur with expressive photos.

The bald eagles are included in the winter chapter combining educational information in a majestically entertaining manner. In this section is a photograph of a fence in Clear Lake. Covered in ice, this perfectly capture the stark isolation of the winter in many farm communities across the state. Also reflective of the winter months are his pictures of the trees. Each one perfectly captures their shivering, cold beauty.

The concluding chapter is an educational resource for nature photography tips.

Ty Smedes photos excel in beauty. Compared to the legendary National Geographic photos, his selections perfectly match the pride he has in discovering and sharing the beauty of his state, Iowa. In addition to this book, he has also published The Return of Iowa's Bald Eagles which is now in its second printing.

Both books can be purchased through local retail book sellers or at Many photographs capturing the natural world seen through Ty Smedes' eyes can be purchased for reasonable rate at

"A picture is worth a thousand words." For this phenomenal book, Ty Smedes photographs are unquestionable a work of art that beautifully reflects his love of the natural world in this state.

Waterloo: The History of Four Days, Three Armies, and Three Battles
Bernard Cornwell
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062312051, $35.00,

Two-hundred years ago in the year 1815, Napoleon was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo.

With history usually being written by the victors, this famous battle of the French against the combined forces of Prussia and Great Britain has been told from various perspectives throughout the years. Three armies with three battles over four days ended Napoleon's rule over much of Europe. So why write another book about Waterloo?

Historical fiction writer Bernard Cornwell decided that none of these accounts truly reflected the actual battle. In his first non-fiction book, Cornwell breaks this battle down into chapters with accompanying maps detailing the placement and actions of the troops as well as artistic paintings of the events, explaining both in a readable version for the non-historians and military strategists demonstrating that sometimes the portraits painted years after the events were flawed.

This is a book for those who would like to better understand the actual strategies, complications, problems, mistakes, weaponry, uniform, communications and conditions and people which led to Napoleon's ultimate defeat. Revealing the human faults such as mistaking the uniforms as friendly forces, fighting in mud and a battle fought not in a hilly area with ridges rather than a flat plain, all became major factors in the battle.

It is difficult to imagine the actual battle scenes, but Cornwell excels with this factor. As you read the book, you can easily picture the fighting in the mud where oftentimes the killings were layered on top of the already dead making movement of horses and men almost impossible.

This book is fascinating in the descriptions of the military strategies. Cornwell describes these as a sort of "rock, paper, scissors" methodology. It cavalry is used, the best defense is ...and so on. Imagining the weaponry of the time period and the best offensive and defensive methods is intriguing. Having the troops in a square was often the best as described.

"To stand firm because as long as the square kept its cohesion then the French cavalry was impotent."

"Those squares could be broken by artillery if Ney had managed to bring more guns close to the line, or he could have destroyed them with infantry."

"That was the scissors, paper and stone reality of Napoleonic warfare. If you could force an enemy to form square then you could bring a line of infantry against it and overwhelm it with musket fire.."

Bernard Cornwell is a master storyteller well-known for grabbing one small section of British history and turning the events into a logical and readable novel which can be enjoyed by adult readers. His Saxon Tales and Richard Sharpe novels are perfect examples of well-developed characters bringing to light the events that resulted in the Britain of today.

The book consists os twelve chapters each with a map explaining the troop movements of that section and portraits of the major players and events. Also included is a foreword, a preface, an aftermath and an afterword besides the acknowledgments, bibliography, and index.

From Cornwell's story of Sharpe's Waterloo, he realized that the battle of that particular novel overtook the plot. Realizing the immense importance of how these few days shaped Europe, Cornwell created this non-fiction book based on the various perspectives of the combatants.

Waterloo is for adult readers who would like to better comprehend the Napoleonic Wars and Europe in the year 1815.

To Catch the Snowflakes
Lawrence J. Schulenberg
Publish America
c/o America Star Books
PO Box 151, Frederick, MD 21705-0151
1413707491, $20.45, 125 pages,

What happens to teachers when they retire?

For former Council Bluffs' public school teacher, Larry Schulenberg he decided to reflect upon his life, his challenges and successes by penning a short story of his life. This isn't a person who only tells of his success, he speaks of his struggles, failures, and his "snowflakes".

"Maybe not now, but someday soon, you're going to have to decide if you want to spend your life sitting inside watching the snowflakes fall...or do you want to go out and...catch the snowflakes. If you choose to go out into the will surely fall...but that's life...we all fall... Do you want to be a part of life? Or do you merely want to watch?"

Bluntly stated, there are no guarantees in life but how you handle the challenges throughout life can make all the difference in the world.

Larry Schulenberg somehow had the misfortune of being the only person in his hometown to be affected by polio. He was fortunate to have parents who did not excuse his handicap but who encouraged him to live every moment to the fullest. He quickly learned how to be successful adult complete with a career and a family.

Even though Schulenberg appears to have led a successful life, he and has family have experienced problems as everyone finds at some point with his career and challenges for his family.

While being a well-respected teacher in the Council Bluffs School District, he discovered the problems of advancing a career within a school district. He discovered that the way to further his career was by uprooting his family. However, this path is constantly changing in a field constantly changing and he even discovers himself without a job to support his family.

In his personal life, Larry and his wife wanted a family. When that did not happen, they chose adoption through a well-respected agency, first with a boy and a few years later, a girl. What they never expected was contact with their son's birth mother.

When a well-respected adoption agency does not disclose information, there are always ways around the system. Apparently a private detective managed to be employed by the adoption agency revealing to the birth mother the identity of the family adopting her boy. Throughout the years, his birth mother had followed the family. Was she a stalker? Why does she want to be a part of his life now?

Larry Schulenberg wrote this novel to entertain but more than that, he wanted to share his lesson of life about a personal attitude and especially for those challenged with handicaps of any kind proving that each person can be capable.

To Catch the Snowflakes is an authentic reflection on a special person who looked for the best in everyone even when life was challenges. This short autobiographical memoir is best stated by what Schulenberg's father told him, "We must travel through the valleys to appreciate the peaks."

The Book of Madness and Cures
Regina O'Melveny
Little, Brown & Company
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780316195836, $25.99, 2012, Hardcover, 321 pages,

Life in Venice, Italy in the year 1590, Gabriella Mondini is a well-respected doctor with many patients who appreciate her care as a female doctor. She was accepted as a physician in Venice because of the well-respected influence of her father who is also a physician. However brilliant, her father leaves the city, with his absence, Gabriella is no longer allowed to practice medicine.

Her father seems to be own personal quest. This might simply be an excuse for his mental illness. He frequently suffered from fits of manic behavior and times of withdrawal and depression. He views his travels as an opportunity to complete his resource book of maladies and cures. She is no longer allowed to practice medicine.

Gabriella's father had a special relationship with his daughter. His wife, Gabriella's mother had a different perspective and preferred the traditional roles of the time.

Gabriella was her father's daughter. Her mother did not understand her daughter's attraction to medicine. She was naturally slightly jealous of their relationship. Gabriella realized that she was well-respected in the community only because of her father.

With her father's leaving Venice, Gabriella is no longer allowed to continue to treat patients. She had a special bond with many women patients since she really understood their ailments. The local community of physicians do not allow her to practice without her father's support.

Without being able to practice medicine, she had no strong connections to the community. Gabriella decides to find her father and to somehow help him to return to Venice to resume his life and her life as a physician. Gabriella pursues her quest to find her father accompanied by her faithful servants Olmina and Lorenzo.

Being a woman accompanied by both a male and female servant helps in her travels tremendously but many people are wary of a female physician in this male-dominated occupation. Gabriella strives to learn as she travels creating her own resource book of maladies and the treatments.

Oftentimes, I felt that this book was closely following somewhat similar journeys and adventures of Don Quixote, especially with the supportive servants. The book excelled in character development and a true sense of the time and place. The pacing was uneven which is to be expected of a debut novel.

The Book of Madness and Cures is a wonderful debut novel for Regina O'Melveny. The intended audience is for those who enjoy historical romance novels. The strength of this novel is the historical research into the setting actually placing the reader in the time period traipsing around Europe. There was even consideration to the Gregorian and the Julian calendars and their ten-day difference. Gabriella and her father were well-developed characters along with her servants. Many of their adventures seemed contrived but overall it was an enjoyable book. For a debut novel, unquestionably delightful.

Belle's Crossing
B. J. Betts
Tornado Alley Publications
Prairie Rose Publications
September 2014
B00NW4DUVW, $0.99 Kindle, 60 pages,

In 1909, three beautiful teenaged daughters spent their time preparing for a dance. With all the teasing and primping they quickly turned their household into temporary chaos. With this loving and caring family, they were delighted with the enthusiasm and were content to know that the girls would be safe being that they were together.

This was the annual dance and for their sister, Rosie, it would be her first time being allowed to attend a dance. The thrill of growing up and included with her older sisters made her nervous but also exciting as a new chapter in her life was about to open.

On their way home from the dance, Katy, Susie, and Rosie Clark died in an unfortunate accident while crossing a train track in the swampy area known as Big Lake Park in the rural area of northern Council Bluffs, Iowa on Halloween Night. Was it an accident or was it someone's idea of a prank?

If people die under unsettling circumstances does it mean their spirits are unsettled? What would allow them to rest in peace? Can they become angels waiting for destiny to fulfill their purpose

One hundred years later, Laynee Rodgers has almost an identical accident. However, she lived due to the help of three women who were dressed in old clothes. Who were these women? Where did they go? Why did they need to save her?

"Belle's Crossing" excels in bringing the past to life. In this haunting short story, the reader feels as if they are with accompanying Laynee with her investigation into the past. The history of past traditions and practices into Beggar's Night perfectly educates as well as delights in the tale by local storyteller, B. J. Betts.

B.J. Betts is Council Bluffs' born and raised while now residing close-by in Missouri Valley. She has published two novels Saigon Moon reflecting on the Vietnam War mixed with romance and Echoes in the Night also about two brothers who were drafted to fight in Vietnam. She is active in the Romance Writers of America and also the Romance Writers of the Heartland.

For a quick romantic story, B. J. Betts "Belle's Crossing" tells a haunting and memorable tale.

Teri Davis

Theodore's Bookshelf

A Song of Shadows
John Connolly
In UK/CA: Hodder & Stoughton
Carmelite House, 50 Victoria Embankment, London EC4 0D2
9781444751482, 14.99 BPS, Hardcover, 448 pp.
9781444751499, 14.96 CA$, Paperback

(This book is currently only available in/through Canada and the UK. It will be published in the US by Atria/Emily Bestler Books on September 29, 2015)

This latest Charlie Parker novel has a more intriguing plot while combining many of the elements of earlier books in the series. It begins with Charlie having survived a near fatal gunshot attack, leaving him extremely weak, renting a house on a small bay in Boreas, ME, in which to recuperate. There is only one other home on the bay, occupied by a woman, Ruth Winter, and her daughter, Amanda. In earlier decades, a large German population settled in the area, and after World War II an influx of supposed displaced persons arrived nearby.

When the body of a man washes ashore on the beach, questions are raised as to whether he is a suicide or the victim of foul play since he had traveled from Florida. Then another fact emerges: His friend and partner is found murdered in the Sunshine State, raising additional suspicion. When Ruth Winter is murdered, there can be no question there is evil in the air, and Charlie, despite his debilitation, begins to act like a detective.

So much for the background. The central theme is the post-war arrivals and their link to a Nazi concentration camp. The description of the government's investigations to identify and deport Nazi war criminals is affecting. And Charlie's efforts to unravel the mystery of the deaths, whether they are related, and if so to what, are, of course, aided by his usual cohorts, Louis and Angel and FBI agent Ross, along with Rabbi Epstein. Naturally a Charlie Parker novel without the presence of the Collector or introduction of the occult would not be in keeping with the series, so, naturally, both are present and play a major role in the unraveling of the plot, along with the presence of Charlie's daughters, the living Sam and the deceased Jennifer. All in all, this is John Connolly at his best, with a most serious story, and is highly recommended.

The Iron Sickle
Martin Limon
Soho Crime
853 Broadway, NY, NY 10003
9781616955687, $15.95, Paperback, 320 pp.,

Twenty years after the truce brought hostilities to an end on the Korean peninsula, the head of the 8th United States Army Claims Office in Seoul is murdered when a Korean man slices his throat with a small iron sickle, bringing in CID agents George Sueno and Ernie Bascom to investigate. The two have demonstrated in previous novels that they irreverently disobey orders but somehow achieve results.

In this case, they are stonewalled by both the Americans and Koreans, both of whom apparently do not wish the two to solve it. It seems there is a dirty secret buried and the agents have to steal clues to guide their investigation.

The author's novels ring with authenticity gained from firsthand knowledge. He served 20 years in the Army, ten of them in Korea. As a result, the sights and sounds provide the reader with the real flavor of the city, the taste of foods, the nights filled with bars, drinks and sex. And, more important, the rigidness of the Army bureaucracy.


Last Winter, We Parted
Fuminori Nakamura
Translated by Allison Markin Powell
Soho Press
853 Broadway, NY, NY 10003
9781616954550, $25.00, Hardcover, 216 pp,

This novel is a convoluted story which probably deserves a higher rating, except for the fact that I suspect it will be a difficult read for the average reader. It is a twisted tale of a young writer who is assigned to interview a man convicted of the murder of two women and write a book a la "In Cold Blood."

But as his efforts progress, nothing is as it seems. The man in prison says he committed the murders by burning the women, but doubts arise whether or not he actually committed the deeds. The interaction between the writer and the inmate is intense, with each seeking to delve deeply into the other's psyche.

This is a compelling but complicated story, not to be read lightly. For those who wish to tackle it, this reviewer would recommend "Last Winter, We Parted." Another recommendation would be a previous novel by this author, "The Thief."

To Dwell in Darkness
Deborah Crombie
Morrow Paperbacks
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780062271617, $13.99, Paperback, 336 pp,

On his first day as the new head of the murder investigation team at Holborn Police Station, an apparent demotion from his previous job at Scotland Yard, Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid is handed a whopper of an incident. Someone has set off a white phosphorous grenade in historic St. Pancras Station, burning himself to death, injuring many commuters and disrupting the railways system not only throughout the British Isles but all over Europe because the Eurostar originates there. The flash went off just as a group carrying placards began a demonstration protesting the pollution created by the new Thameslink and Crossrail construction and redevelopment throughout the area.

After the station is emptied and witness statements taken, the first order of business is to identify the victim, who everyone thought was one of the protest group, then to determine if it was merely a protest or part of a terrorist attack. What evolves is a careful police procedural and Kincaid's maverick style of investigation, seeking clues, forensic evidence and following assumptions. Meanwhile, his wife, Detective Inspector Gemma James, is busing trying to solve the rape-murder of a 12-year-old girl, and has her sights on a potential culprit.

This novel is the latest in a long-running series, and ends with a clever and undefined ending, laying the groundwork for the next installment. The author has written a story that keeps the reader's interest, concluding in a most unexpected finale based on the previous clues. To this reader, the solution seems a bit gratuitous, but it does work sufficiently well so that the novel is recommended.

Keigo Higashino
Translated from the Japanese by Alexander O. Smith
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9781250035608, $24.99, Hardcover, 276 pp,

This meticulously crafted novel presents the reader with a series of red herrings created by an admitted murderer to thwart the lead detective's investigation. With a written confession in hand, the problem the police face is determining the motive. And it isn't easy.

A best-selling author, Kunihiko Hidaka, is found by his wife of one month and friend, Osamu Nonoguchi, on the floor of his office, having been hit on the head with a heavy object and strangled. The home is locked, as is the office. The case is assigned to detective Kyochiro Kaga, who years ago taught at the same school as Nonoguchi. During his investigation, Kaga develops various theories, determines Nonoguchi is guilty, and obtains a written confession. But he remains unsatisfied because he can't establish a motive. Thus begins a cat-and-mouse game between the detective and the perpetrator.

The author has constructed a whodunit with puzzle after puzzle, including the classic locked-room murder. In an excellent translation, the author's crisp prose carries the reader along as Kaga moves ahead step by step, confronting the murderer as he comes up with a new theory. The only criticism is that each new theory is unveiled too quickly by Kaga, without any previous clues for the reader. Other than that, the novel is recommended.

Ghost Month
Ed Lin
Soho Crime
853 Broadway, NY, NY 10003
97816169555410, $15.95, Paperback, 336 pp,

This novel is as complicated and inscrutable as the Chinese, and probably could have been split into two or three books. It is a detailed history if Taiwan, a deep look at the culture and its people from the original aborigines to its more recent takeover following the civil war on the mainland and the settlement of the forces led by Chiang Kai-shek. Then it is a love story of sorts. And lastly, it is a mystery.

The story takes place during Ghost Month, a period in which the dead are commemorated. A haunting time. The plot tells of the love of Jing-nan and Julia ever since they were toddlers and what happens to them when they grow up. They pledged themselves to marriage, but then left for the United States and college on separate coasts with no contact. When his parents died, he was forced to take over operation of the family food stall at a night market. She returns to Taipei only to be shot dead, and he undertakes to find out why and by whom.

While the writing is clear and concise, I found the various digressions overwhelming, making it hard for this reader to maintain any kind of pace. It might have been a better read if the novel had been simplified, omitting a lot of extraneous albeit interesting information of the peoples and history of the island. The book is recommended for those who enjoy such a deep and penetrating picture of Taiwan.

John Sandford
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St., NY, Ny 0014
9780399162374, $27.95/32.95 CA$, Hardcover, 388 pp,

Just having finished his last assignment, Virgil Flowers of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension was looking forward to some quiet time. And then he gets a telephone call from his friend, Johnson Johnson, requesting him to come solve what amounts to a dog-napping problem in the small town of Trippton. It seems someone has been stealing dogs from the town's residents, presumably for sale to medical laboratories and other uses.

Instead, when Virgil gets there he gets more than he can chew on: First the murder of a reporter on the local weekly newspaper, which leads Virgil to uncover a massive fraud by members of the school board, followed by additional murders. Some quiet time! From that point, Virgil just plods on to the inevitable conclusion. The reader is never in any doubt about the identity of the culprits. It only remains to find out how it all comes together.

The Virgil Flowers series is now eight novels (and counting). He is an entertaining protagonist, and the stories are well written and enjoyable. "Deadline" seems a little long, but the pages turn quickly, and the novel is recommended.

Jon McGoran
c/o Tor-Forge
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780765370082, $8.99, Paperback, 432 pp.,

A three-day visit to Martha's Vineyard to visit an old friend who is working there, keeping track of bees needed to pollinate crops, turns out to be more than Philadelphia detective Doyle Carrick and his girlfriend, Nola, probably bargained for. They discover the bee population is fast disappearing and the cause is a mystery. Nola gets a job manually pollinating plants on a farm and Doyle ends up hanging around, then becoming embroiled in helping to solve the situation.

A lesser plot is the love interest: Doyle and Nola's hot-and-cold relationship; her association with the young, handsome employer, making Doyle jealous; and his relationship with a beautiful female scientist, raising an equal emotion in Nola. Of course, both these other characters play a vital role in the main plot.

The action is fast and furious, and the plot moves forward at a rapid pace. And to boot, there are additional facets to complicate the reader's progress, including high stakes corporate machinations. (And we probably learn more about bees and genetics than we ever wished.)


For the Dead
Timothy Hallinan
Soho Crime
853 Broadway, NY, NY 10003
9781616951146, $25.00, Hardcover, 352 pp,

In an Afterward, the author notes this novel has as its protagonist Miaow, the young street girl adopted by Poke Rafferty and his wife, Rose. Inasmuch as a great deal of descriptive material is devoted to her actions and the "attitude" inherent in a 12-year-old (or is it 13?) developing personality, as well as her role in helping purchase a cellular phone with incriminating pictures, that is true.

However, as in prior entries in the Poke Rafferty series, it is up to him to solve the mystery, which begins with the murder of two "retired" police officers who ran a murder-for-hire operation for years out of the department. And Poke finds that the deaths are related to the reason for their retirement, which was a cover-up of the acts to shield the department. And now, the "investigation" again is attempting to prevent daylight from exposing the higher-ups in the department from exposure.

As in past novels in the series, Poke is resourceful and Rose is, well, Rose. Miaow is depicted as a typical teenager. What seems a little different this time is the lack of the atmosphere of Bangkok and Thailand, the tastes and sounds which usually are so real. In a sense, introduction of Bo (the boy who originally found Miaow and saved her from the streets) and his "home" for street children fulfills this customary element, and the rest is not essential for the story.


The Care and Management of Lies
Jacqueline Winspear
Harper Perennial
c/o HarperCollins
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780062220516, $15.99, Paperback, 352 pp,

The old adage that an army travels on its stomach certainly is an apt description for this standalone by the author of the terrific Maisie Dobbs series. Like those novels, it is sent in and around World War I and captures the horrors of the Great War, the muddy trenches, the deaths and its effect on the folks back home.

The plot centers on Kezia Marchant who marries Tom, the younger brother of her good friend, Thea Brisenden, with whom she went to school, both becoming teachers. Then upon marrying Tom, Kezia becomes a farm wife. All this takes place shortly before the outbreak of hostilities, and when the war breaks out, Tom feels imperiled to enlist, leaving Kezia to manage the farm.

In the brief time before Tom leaves for France, a ritual develops, as Kezia learns to cook with a flourish, using ingenuity and good sense to set a table unlike anything her husband had ever experienced. And when he receives letters in the trenches they are filled with glowing accounts of dinners Kezia has prepared for him, filling his drudgery with lightness. And the rest of the soldiers in his unit take to the descriptions as well, adding to their joy in the face of the poor rations they have to endure. This is a novel demonstrating the ability of people to withstand all sorts of horrible experiences and survive, and it is recommended.

Want You Dead
Peter James
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9781250030207, $26.99, Hardcover, 402 pp,

Peter James writes fascinating police procedurals, and this novel lives up to that reputation if the reader plows through the first half of the book. Unfortunately, the first half of the book is a catalogue of acts perpetrated by Bryce Laurent, who turns out to be a sociopath, murderer, and arsonist. The plot is relatively simple: Bryce and Red Cameron have a torrid love affair until she learns the truth about Bryce's background and all the lies he'd told her. Proof was a detective's report commissioned by her mother.

When she breaks off with Bryce, Red is subjected to all kinds of acts of revenge, and Bryce commits such terrorism as he can against her and her parents. Then the chase begins, with Detective Superintendent Roy Grace counting the minutes until his wedding to Cleo and their short honeymoon. Will they get away, or will Grace adhere to his long-standing policy of obeying the call to duty? I urge you to read on and find out.

This reader found the initial part of the novel tedious, filled with repetition, as the author attempted to set the tone and establish the basis for Laurent's character. It just seemed, to me, to be too much, and I felt it should have been cut to a large degree. The latter part of the novel was truly exciting, living up to the expectations of a Roy Grace procedural, as a result the novel is recommended.

Theodore Feit

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
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